Viewers react to move of EWTN by cable service

Adding the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) to its growing list of high definition channels that are offered digitally was Comcast’s way of improving service to customers in central Illinois, according to the vice president for communications and public affairs in the cable company’s greater Chicago region.

“Because of strong customer demand for HD programming, we have committed to offering more than 1,000 HD viewing choices by the end of this year,” said Rich Ruggiero.

“By making this change, we can continue to offer EWTN and meet strong customer demand for additional HD content, as well as more On Demand movies and shows and faster Internet speeds,” he said.

Longtime EWTN viewers who have not made the move to digital technology expressed their dismay in calls to The Catholic Post last week, however. Still considered part of Comcast’s basic service, EWTN programming can only be viewed with a “set top” box or converter box now.

“They’ve taken the legs out from under us,” said one senior caller, who lives alone and asked that her name be withheld for reasons of safety.

She said she watches EWTN for many reasons, including the rosary, the Mass and programs that bring music into her home in the middle of the night.

“I like their Masses, especially when I’m unable to get out,” she said. “I’m still very active but when the weather is like it was last winter, I thought the Lord would want me to be safe.”

Ann Pomatto, a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Spring Valley, said she was concerned for the elderly on fixed incomes and others of limited financial means who might not be able to afford the “set top” box, no matter how little the cost may seem.

While Comcast officials said it would add about $1.13 per month to the cost of basic service in the Peoria and Bloomington-Normal areas, and about $1.99 in the Champaign area, Pomatto said she has been told it would be slightly more expensive in the LaSalle-Peru area.

Ruggiero estimated that 66 percent of Comcast’s customers already have the converter box in their homes nationally.

Ruggiero suggested that people with questions or concerns about their service contact the cable company at 1-800-COMCAST.

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