Belfast community access channels will soon be changing location on the cable TV channel lineup.

On Sept. 25, Channels 2, 5 and 7 will be found on 1301, 1302 and 1303, respectively.

Spectrum, Belfast's only local television provider that is not satellite-based, has decided to put public access channels in the higher-range numbers, according to a press release from the company.

The release goes on to say the company is in the process of converting to an all-digital network, and will be moving "all analog TV signals from our lineups" and grouping them in the 1300 channel series.

To access those channels, customers will also be required to have a Spectrum receiver box installed on each TV.

Spectrum has been making this shift in stages on a national level, with changes already having taken place from Southern Maine up the coast to Rockland.

In Northern Maine, Aroostook County is scheduled to change over Sept. 5.

Spectrum Director of Communications Andrew Russell said in an email that Spectrum has already completed "upgrades in most of the 41 states we serve" and hopes to complete the remaining areas by the end of the year.

"By removing analog signals, we free up capacity in our network for faster internet speeds, more HD and OnDemand options," he said. 

The move aligns Spectrum to be more competitive with the likes of Netflix, Hulu and other on-demand video streaming services.

Ned Lightner, program director of Belfast Community TV, said some viewers might find it "daunting" to discover their public access channels have moved.

"We have a few challenges anyways and putting us up in these high numbers makes me upset," Lightner said. "This is not being friendly."

Lightner is proud of how the station has helped connect the community, as well as chronicle historical events.

"We've tried to have programming which is a reflection of the community," he said.

The station, which airs City Council meetings on Channel 7, and a mix of eclectic and informative programming on Channel 2, seems to have something for everyone.

Watch a pickleball game on "Somewhere in Waldo County," pets up for adoption on “Reigning Cats & Dogs," local tai chi teacher David Hurley on “Tai Chi Through the Seasons,” or even view a televised First Church service.

As the station program director, Lightner has been chronicling historical events in the community since the stations' inception back in 2006.

He remembers interviewing the captain of the HMS Bounty replica when it was docked in Belfast in 2012. The ship sank off the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy later that year, and Lightner's interview footage was used at the investigative hearings.

Belfast City Counselor Mary Mortier hopes this will just be a "blip" or a "bump in the road," saying, "We are very fortunate to have our public access channels.

"It has helped the local democratic process," she added, "and is a vehicle to stay informed."

For now, Mortier said, they are trying to do their best to get the word out about the upcoming changes.

The Belfast station is one of three local channels in the city, along with Belfast Area High School’s educational Channel 5 and the government channel on 7.

The Community Television Association of Maine, a coalition of consumer-interest groups and community media advocates, has been drafting a bill for introduction in the  Legislature this fall that deals specifically with holding the cable industry accountable, according to a press release.

Major points of the legislation will address a number of state statute non-compliance issues and ongoing industry practices that the coalition deems discriminatory against public, educational, government (PEG) channels that serve hundreds of Maine communities.

Among other things, this bill includes a provision for “use and support” of PEG channels and requires that they be placed in the same numerical sequence location as the local commercial network broadcast channels.

The release goes on to say the industry has repeatedly provided inferior technical support, most recently denied access to high-definition channel space on its systems, and pushed the PEG channels into the highest tier of their systems, a practice commonly referred to as “channel slamming.”

"This practice makes it very difficult for viewers to find their municipal meetings and other community events that are typical of PEG programming," the press release says.

The bill also requires all cable operators in Maine to carry PEG channels on their basic cable package: "… Such channels shall not be separated or moved numerically from other channels carried on the basic cable or video service offerings … unless the change is required by federal law."

To get involved or find out more about this campaign, visit http://ctamaine.org/News.

Belfast Community TV can be streamed through any device (smartphone, laptop), without a cable subscription, by going to belfastcommunitytv.org/.