Briefs for Tax Day, April 15, 2009:
1. WZTK's Brad & Britt (101.1fm) are publicly defending their decision not to discuss the Time-Warner situation on their morning radio show. See, Time Warner advertises heavily on the duo's show, with both airing original spots on behalf of the cable giant.
Local blogger "gedblog" chastised Brad & Britt for not discussing the issue on the air:
Britt Whitmire is extremely tech savvy and has dragged his older partner, Brad Krantz, kicking and grumbling into the world of Facebook and Twitter. Britt’s even joined the fake Twitterer’s club and created for-fun accounts for Fake Dan Rather and Little Rush so we can enjoy his musings at any time of the day or night. But even Britt seems powerless to rock the boat when it comes to corporate sponsorship.
When the news about Time Warner’s preposterous rate changes first broke in Greensboro, I sent an @reply to Britt to see if they could raise the topic on their morning show. Britt’s response disappointed me, but deep down, I understood it. I often must resist writing blog posts critical of services or companies for which I do design work for at the Iconfactory. But unlike Britt, my job isn’t to get people talking about national and local news & events. FM Talk’s management have no doubt cut the duo out of the loop on this important issue, which is unsettling.
Britt tells gedblog:
Just to clarify, neither of us has been told by management to avoid the topic. We have made that decision on our own.
2. Demonstrations are planned in front of Time-Warner's offices on Spring Garden Street this Saturday. News & Record reports the protest will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1813 Spring Garden St.
The announcement was met with outrage from customers and threats of legislation to block the change. In reaction, Time Warner postponed its tests in Austin and San Antonio, big areas for tech business.
For the Triad and Rochester, the company announced two additional tiers, including a “budget” tier allowing 1 GB of data use per month for just $15 and a “super-tier” allowing up to 100 GB of data use for $75. The company also said it would limit overage fees to no more than $75, essentially creating an “unlimited” plan for those willing to pay the fees.
Many Triad customers are still angry about the plan, saying that Time Warner has a virtual monopoly on high speed cable Internet in the area and is using it to make customers pay more unless they bundle services, order Digital Phone service or pay more for a Business Class Internet plan. Customers have contacted city leaders, state representatives and even their congressmen. Other customers have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and contacted the attorney general's office.
3. Apparently, the Triad is not tech-savvy enough. Whereas Time Warner postponed this scheme in Austin and San Antonio, Greensboro and Rochester have become ground zero in this protest. And that has small businesses up in arms. As Ed Cone said over the weekend, this proposal threatens the livelihood of tech businesses, small businesses, and for that matter...anyone who chooses to call the Triad home.
Today's News & Record points this out:
“It’s the same amount of bandwidth if you use their service or someone else’s,” said Stephen Matlin, a self-employed Greensboro Web designer who uses Skype for phone calls through his Time Warner Cable Internet service. “Why would they charge only the people who choose not to pay for their digital phone service? It’s to discourage competition, to penalize you unless you subscribe with them.”
Last week, Greensboro Mayor Yvonne Johnson said she would look into bringing in competing Internet providers such as AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS but no progress has yet been reported.
City leaders in High Point said they’re also concerned about how it will affect residents — especially business people.
“To single our area out at a time when we’re trying to attract new business, when everyone is trying to cut costs, is bad for the city,” High Point City Councilman Mike Pugh said. “We shouldn’t be at that disadvantage.”