Op-Ed: Spacewalks in Your Home?

April 24, 2009
by Mark Kramer

I suspect that many readers in New Castle are unaware of the fact that NASA has a dedicated television channel available for public viewing. It operates 24 hours a day and carries a wealth of fascinating material, including live coverage of space shuttle launches and landings, spacewalks and other events of interest.

There are educational programs aimed at children and detailed press briefings for those who want to know the inside story of how America’s space program works.

The satellite feed is free, and many cable systems around the country carry it, but you won’t find it on Verizon FiOS or Cablevision. As a producer covering space for CBS News for many years, I tried to convince Cablevision to add it to their menu, but my requests were ignored. Now that FiOS is in the game, they have shown the same lack of interest.

My argument to both has been that down linking the signal is absolutely free; their only expense is distributing it. I don’t know the reason for their refusals, but requests from many subscribers, not just one individual, might have some effect. Town Administrator Jerry Faiella tells me that “The town is basically precluded by the federal government from negotiating channel line-up as part of our franchise.”  That means it’s up to the end user: you.

Looking at polls going back decades, one can find enormous public interest in spaceflight. In 1997 the NASA website was flooded with millions of hits in just a few days when it covered the landing of the Mars Pathfinder probe. I would think both Verizon and Cablevision would want to tap into that enthusiasm and provide this channel as a public service.

If you would like to be able to see NASA TV on the cable system you have in your home, you can write to the following:

Verizon FiOS

John F. Butler
Verizon External Affairs – Midstate
10 County Center Road
White Plains, New York 10607




Robert Hoch
Director of Government Affairs
Six Executive Plaza
Yonkers, NY 10701

At Mr. Faiella’s suggestion, I sent copies of my request to the following, as well:

John A. Figliozzi, Chief, Franchising and Municipal Assistance
Office of Telecommunications
NYS Public Service Commission
3 Empire State Plaza 4th Floor
Albany, NY 12223

The Honorable Nita M. Lowey
United States Representative
222 Mamaroneck Avenue, Suite 310
White Plains, NY 10605

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
757 Third Avenue Room 17-02
New York, NY 10017  

The Honorable Kirsten Gillibrand
United States Senator
780 Third Avenue, Suite 2601
New York, NY 10017

Gennaro J. Faiella
New Castle Town Administrator
200 South Greeley Avenue
Chappaqua, NY 10514

If you feel so inclined, I would appreciate a one-line note from any of you who send out a letter, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), so that I can track how many responses there are. Thanks! 

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