No New England Patriots preseason games for Berkshire Spectrum customers

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PITTSFIELD — The Giants are our team now.

Patriots fans in the Berkshires who use the cable provider Charter Spectrum — that includes customers of the merging Time Warner company — will go without preseason New England games.

"If NBC is airing [the Patriots], we're airing them," said Maryanne Ryan, the director of programming at Albany station WNYT. "Otherwise, it's Giants preseason games."

Spectrum's removal of Springfield station WWLP from the company's Berkshire lineup in March left the region with WNYT as the area's NBC affiliate. Prior to the move, the region had both channels.

It's more than football. The loss of WWLP cost the area its last source of Massachusetts Statehouse news. Now, all state news in the area is from Albany — there's no channel that airs coverage out of Boston.

"This has been going on for 20 years," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox. "And the federal government has not done a damn thing."

Pignatelli said he'd like to see action at the federal level to bring the Berkshires into line with the rest of the state.

There is a process through the Federal Communications Commission to change the coverage of Berkshire's status as an "orphan county" through Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization Act Market Modification. The modification would redraw the district lines and must be initiated by county government or service providers; citizen petitions are not allowed.

That's not good enough for state Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield.

"It boggles the mind that we can't figure out how to have regional coverage that aligns with the state," Hinds said.

Spectrum's Northeast Director of Communications Andrew Russell told The Eagle that the decision was out of the company's hands. Russell would not tell The Eagle how many customers the company has in the Berkshires, citing corporate confidentiality.

"All TV providers are required to carry the local broadcasters in a market — that's not the provider's choice," Russell said.

Russell did not comment as to why the company had removed WWLP in the first place. But the explanation probably comes from decades-old federal regulations which place the Berkshires in the Albany media market.

That explanation won't do anything for football fans like Hinds, however.

"It's frustrating as a Patriots fan to turn on the TV and see the Jets or the Giants," said Hinds.

Reach staff reporter Eoin Higgins at 413-464-4872 or @EoinHiggins


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