BALTIMORE, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Comcast and local prosecutors across
Maryland and Delaware today announced that they will implement a cable amnesty
program from September 2, 2003 to September 16, 2003. A house-by-house audit
of all cable systems in the Region is currently underway, and following the
amnesty program Comcast will begin turning people's names over to the
Anyone who is receiving unauthorized cable service in a Comcast service
area in the jurisdictions listed below will be able to contact Comcast and
become authorized, paying customers with no questions asked by calling
1-888-COMCAST or by logging onto www.cabletheft.com.
Comcast and local prosecutors are conducting the cable amnesty program
across the Baltimore-Annapolis areas including Anne Arundel County, Baltimore
City, Baltimore County, Calvert County, Cecil County, Charles County, the City
of Annapolis, Harford County and Howard County.
The amnesty program is also taking place in Comcast service areas on
Maryland's Eastern Shore including the Ocean City metropolitan area and the
Salisbury metropolitan area. Those jurisdictions include Caroline County,
Dorchester County, Somerset County, Wicomico County and Worcester County.
All three counties in Delaware are also participating in the cable amnesty
program. Customers can feel free to call 1-888-COMCAST or log onto
www.cabletheft.com in Kent County, New Castle County and Sussex County in
Delaware to take advantage of the amnesty program and become authorized,
paying customers with no questions asked.
As part of the amnesty program, residents currently receiving unauthorized
cable services may choose to become paying customers over the phone or have
the unauthorized service disconnected without facing legal action. In
addition, residents receiving cable television through unauthorized cable
boxes will have the opportunity to turn in their boxes to Comcast in exchange
for a new, legal box.
In some cases, residents may not realize they are receiving cable service
illegally. Comcast's amnesty program will also educate communities about
"active" and "passive" cable theft. "Active" cable theft occurs when people
knowingly and willfully make illegal connections to the cable system or tamper
with equipment so they receive cable service without paying for it. "Passive"
theft occurs when an individual moves into a new residence where cable is
already installed and fails to notify Comcast that the billing should be
transferred to the new occupants.
Following the amnesty program, Comcast officials will complete a house-by-
house electronic audit of its cable systems to identify cable thieves. As
these homes and businesses continue to be identified, the information will be
turned over to the appropriate authorities for possible prosecution, which
upon conviction could include fines and jail time.
"Comcast is dedicated to providing our customers with industry-leading
service and access to the most innovative products and technology," said
Barbara A. Gehrig, Senior Vice President for Comcast's Maryland/Delaware
Region. "We do not like getting into the business of prosecuting cable
thieves, and that is why we are partnering with prosecutors across Maryland
and Delaware to offer this amnesty program that will allow people to turn
themselves in with absolutely no questions asked.
"Unfortunately, there will be individuals who do not take advantage of the
amnesty program. We will find out who is receiving illegal service during our
house-to-house audit in all of our service areas. If those individuals are
still receiving illegal service at the end of the amnesty program, we will be
turning their names over to the appropriate authorities," added Gehrig.
Cable theft across Maryland and Delaware costs local governments and
municipalities millions of dollars in lost revenue each year. Additionally,
illegal cable hook-ups create signal leakage that, if collectively strong
enough, can affect communications including those used by aircraft. People
illegally receiving cable television service also disrupt the cable signal in
their communities so that law-abiding, paying customers may experience
decreased picture quality on their televisions.
According to the National Cable Television Association (NCTA), the cable
industry loses nearly $6.6 billion each year in unrealized revenue because of
theft. The $6.6 billion does not include the unauthorized reception of pay-
per-view programming. Nearly 80 percent of all illegal devices used for cable
piracy are capable of receiving pay-per-view services, and if that lost
revenue was incorporated into the $6.6 billion lost then that number would be
The latest amnesty period comes on the heels of a major investigation that
led to the arrest of a number of family members in a Pikesville home. The
high-profile nature of that case led Comcast officials to the decision to
offer this amnesty program to give the public the chance to legally come
forward and turn themselves in before another round of prosecutions begins.
Any persons currently facing cable theft charges from local authorities
are not eligible for the amnesty program. Those persons currently under
investigation by Comcast for suspected cable theft are eligible for the
amnesty program. However, once criminal charges are filed against an
individual who was receiving unauthorized service then that person is not
eligible for the amnesty program. The amnesty program does not waive past due
balances for paying customers.
About Comcast Cable
Headquartered in Philadelphia, Comcast Cable is a division of Comcast
Corporation, a developer, manager and operator of broadband cable networks and
provider of programming content. Operating in 17 of the United States' 20
largest metropolitan areas, Comcast is one of the leading communications,
media and entertainment companies in the world. Providing basic cable,
Digital Cable, high-speed Internet and telephone services, Comcast is the
company to look to first for the communications products and services that
connect people to what's important in their lives. The company's 55,000
employees, in six divisions, serve more than 21 million customers.
Comcast Cable serves approximately 800,000 customers in Maryland and
Delaware. Comcast, whose Maryland/Delaware Region offices are located in
White Marsh, Maryland, employs more than 3,000 people in the Maryland/Delaware