4th Berkshire District State Rep."Smitty" Pignatelli and 1st Berkshire Rep. John Barrett III met together with the Chair of the Mass.Dept. of Telecommunication & Cable this week in Boston.

Pignatelli told WSBS today the hour and a-half long meeting was "very productive". Much of it had to do with the decision by Spectrum Cable to convert to a totally digital system in the Berkshires, encrypting its signals and making it necessary for all customers to have digital boxes on all TVs or face blank screens. The changes were made late last year in Pignatelli's South County district, and just this past Tuesday for Barrett's North County constituents. Subscribers in the central part of the county are slated for conversion in March.

Pignatelli called the company's policies for these boxes "inconsistent". Some subscribers have a box free for a year he said, others for 2 years. And some of those who are currently being charged for the new boxes are paying different prices. He said he wants to have the Dept. work to "expose the inconsistencies" and have Spectrum try to justify them.

The Rep. also expressed concern that some policies might be in violation of the contracts between the company and the local communities which it serves, and would like to see the state's Attorney General "weigh in" on the matter. He said the Director agreed to "delve into the contract situation a little more."

In drawing an analogy, Pignatelli said, "I have one electric line into my house, but the electric company doesn't charge me by the outlet. I have one water line from the city into my house, they don't charge me by the toilet or the sink. Why does the cable company charge me for every TV that I have? It seems very unfair."