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Choice to Drop TV Service, Enhance Broadband

March 17, 2009 — Choice Communications, one of the three providers of television service in the territory, will drop its TV operation at midnight May 31.
The move is expected to result in immediately and appreciably speedier Internet service to the company's customers.
But that is not the only factor influencing Choice's decision to pull service from its 5,000 TV clients.
The television business has operated at a loss since its inception, Choice Chief Executive Officer David Haddow said in a release Tuesday.
"For the past five years, our TV business has been operating at a substantial loss," which, he said, "has been a drain on our efforts to deploy a state-of-the-art broadband Internet service."
ATN has been carrying the losses from the television side of Choice for years, said Michael Prior, chief executive officer of Atlantic Tele-Network, Choice's publicly held parent company.
"It's very frustrating," he said. "The Virgin Islands is close to home. Though Choice is a very small portion of our portfolio, it means a lot to us."
However, he pointed out, "We are a publicly held company with thousands of shareholders; at some point we have to make the tough decisions."
But the company has been at least two years coming to the decision to let go of the television portion of the business, he said.
During that time, company executives have approached everyone from the satellite companies to the local cable operations, hoping they could find a home for their customers and their employees.
One idea, he said, was to set up Choice employees in their own company, retraining them to install satellite dishes and equipment.
"Our idea was to … provide the initial funding for trucks and other equipment, but it required the cooperation of the satellite companies," Prior said.
Despite mild initial interest, the project never moved along, he said.
The local cable company was also approached, but Choice got nowhere with that, either.
Choice had hoped to provide a seamless transition so nobody was left without televison service, Prior said.
"We knew there was no longterm technical solution," he said, "but we took a lot of time to try to find alternatives for our customers and employees."
The company also made the decision to allow a full 75 days' notice to customers and employees.
Approximately 21 employees will be laid off, with 33 remaining.
Prior said it was an unfortunate time to have to lay people off, given the state of the economy.
"But the economy puts even more pressure on Choice, too," he said.
Prior is adamant that the elimination of the television will have a dramatic, immediately positive affect on the broadband data service: "Focus can make a big difference in providing high-quality services."
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March 17, 2009 -- Choice Communications, one of the three providers of television service in the territory, will drop its TV operation at midnight May 31.
The move is expected to result in immediately and appreciably speedier Internet service to the company's customers.
But that is not the only factor influencing Choice's decision to pull service from its 5,000 TV clients.
The television business has operated at a loss since its inception, Choice Chief Executive Officer David Haddow said in a release Tuesday.
"For the past five years, our TV business has been operating at a substantial loss," which, he said, "has been a drain on our efforts to deploy a state-of-the-art broadband Internet service."
ATN has been carrying the losses from the television side of Choice for years, said Michael Prior, chief executive officer of Atlantic Tele-Network, Choice's publicly held parent company.
"It's very frustrating," he said. "The Virgin Islands is close to home. Though Choice is a very small portion of our portfolio, it means a lot to us."
However, he pointed out, "We are a publicly held company with thousands of shareholders; at some point we have to make the tough decisions."
But the company has been at least two years coming to the decision to let go of the television portion of the business, he said.
During that time, company executives have approached everyone from the satellite companies to the local cable operations, hoping they could find a home for their customers and their employees.
One idea, he said, was to set up Choice employees in their own company, retraining them to install satellite dishes and equipment.
"Our idea was to ... provide the initial funding for trucks and other equipment, but it required the cooperation of the satellite companies," Prior said.
Despite mild initial interest, the project never moved along, he said.
The local cable company was also approached, but Choice got nowhere with that, either.
Choice had hoped to provide a seamless transition so nobody was left without televison service, Prior said.
"We knew there was no longterm technical solution," he said, "but we took a lot of time to try to find alternatives for our customers and employees."
The company also made the decision to allow a full 75 days' notice to customers and employees.
Approximately 21 employees will be laid off, with 33 remaining.
Prior said it was an unfortunate time to have to lay people off, given the state of the economy.
"But the economy puts even more pressure on Choice, too," he said.
Prior is adamant that the elimination of the television will have a dramatic, immediately positive affect on the broadband data service: "Focus can make a big difference in providing high-quality services."
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.