CONWAY — Bill Edmunds was never more happy to turn on his television than on Wednesday when the station manager of Valley Vision learned that the station had returned to Channel 3 on the dial, ending a 22-month run in the hinterland of cable television on Channel 1301.
The good news is Valley Vision is still available on Channel 1301 and now back on Channel 3.
“Valley Vision is back on Channel 3,” Edmunds posted on the Valley Vision Facebook page. “Make sure to add it to your favorites on your remote control!”
“It’s a lot easier to find Channel 3 when you’re channel-surfing,” Edmunds said by phone Thursday afternoon. “Not a lot of people are channel flipping in the 1300s right now. To us, it’s a big deal, it’s great. It will be infinitely easier to find us on Channel 3 than up on Channel 1301”
Town Manager Tom Holmes and Edmunds received the news from Charter Communications, owners of Spectrum Cable, last month.
“I think a lot of people will like this news,” Holmes said by phone Wednesday. “I don’t get cable, but Valley Vision was one of the channels I miss.”
A June 25 letter from Shelley Winchenbach, director of government affairs for Charter Communications, stated Spectrum “will be making changes to our channel lineup for customers in the Conway channel lineup. On or around July 31, Government Access Channel 1301 will be dual illuminated on Channel 3. ... In addition, WPXT 2 My TV will be relocated from Channel 3 to Channel 2.”
Channel 2 currently does not have a station on it.
Valley Vision had been on Channel 3 from 1996 to October of 2018, when Spectrum moved the station to Channel 1301. Public access stations across Maine and New Hampshire were notified of the switch in early August of 2018, and most, including Valley Vision staff, were not happy about it.
Edmunds on Thursday said he believes credit for the move goes to the viewers in Fryeburg, Maine.
I’m fairly confident, this has something to do with the law in Maine said Spectrum Charter has to move its PEG (Public Education and Government) channels back to lower numbers,” he said. “Fryeburg gets its channels from Redstone (the Spectrum office in this area), and we’re the beneficiary of the move.”
A federal judge on March 11 upheld a Maine law requiring cable TV providers to restore public access programming to low channel numbers that are easier for viewers to find.
Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, whose office defended the law, according to the Portland Press Herald, said moving the channels made “it all but impossible to find and view community-run television stations,” which he said play a vital role in the state, including, allowing people to “receive information about important social, political and — as is particularly relevant now — public health issues.”
Edmunds said there may be more good news for Valley Vision’s viewership.
“There is the possibility that we could go to high-definition,” Edmunds said, which will provide a high resolution of programing. He said the station had all the gear to make the move, but has been aired in the common analog format since its inception in 1996.
“Part of the bill that was passed states that stations who want high-def. can get it and he company will provide a transmitter for it,” Edmunds said. “My hope is that the people of Fryeburg ask for it. I’m really hoping it can happen. People will see a big difference.”