Q. I have Comcast and I hear that they are dropping Turner Classic Movies. That makes me mad! I love their old movies. What on earth is Comcast thinking? — Summer, Largo, Maryland. 

Summer, Comcast has announced that it’s moving Turner Classic Movies from its many of its regular programming packages (Digital Starter, etc.) to the Sports and Entertainment plan, which requires an additional $9.99 a month. (Depending upon your market, the switch may have already taken place.)

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(Note: The Sports and Entertainment package, which also includes such channels as the NFL RedZone, MLB Network, ESPNU, and NHL Network, comes free with any Comcast programming package that includes 250 or more channels. If you have a lesser package, you need to pay the $9.99 a month to get it.)

Why is Comcast doing this?

The cable operator explains its reasoning in a note at its web site:

“Every month, Comcast pays programmers like networks, local TV station owners and others, for the ability to bring their programming to you. We regularly review our programming and sometimes make changes to ensure we’re offering a wide variety of programming at the best value. We look at a variety of factors, including customer viewership and programming costs when making these decisions. Viewership of TCM is low, as over 90% of our customers watch less than two movies per month. Given this, we decided to move TCM to the Sports Entertainment Package, which will help us manage programming costs that are passed on to our customers while continuing to make the channel available to those who want to watch it.”

This is another way of saying that Comcast has concluded that it’s no longer cost-effective to carry TCM in packages that are distributed to millions of subscribers. That required the cable operator to pay Turner considerable more money in carriage fees than it will have to pay to include it in Sports and Entertainment.

It remains to be seen, however, if the move will trigger some Comcast subscriber defections, particularly among older viewers who enjoy watching TCM’s lineup of vintage cinema. (Pictured above: Touch of Evil, starring and directed by Orson Welles.)

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— Phillip Swann