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Good News Roundup for August 18, 2023

A look at industry awards, public service and community outreach initiatives from the telecom, media and technology sectors.

A look at industry awards, public service and community outreach initiatives from the telecom, media and technology sectors.

A Hawaiian Telcom employee provides assistance to a member of the American Red Cross in Maui. (Courtesy photo)
A Hawaiian Telcom employee provides assistance to a member of the American Red Cross in Maui. (Courtesy photo)

Once a week, The Desk offers a look at some of the positive stories that emerged from the technology, media and telecommunications industries, including reports of community outreach, public service and awards. If you have a good news story you would like to see featured in our weekly roundup (published every Friday), email [email protected] (subject line: “Good News”) — please include your name, business affiliation and location. 

Hawaii Disaster Response

AT&T is waiving activation and upgrade fees for all Maui customers when they visit the company’s retail store in Kahului. The waiver is intended to help residents and businesses afflicted by the Maui wildfires obtain new or replacement devices and related service. The waiver is retroactive to August 9, and runs through September 7. Additionally, AT&T is offering a free prepaid device with activation of any AT&T Prepaid phone plan at the Kahului store, as well as 25 percent off power accessories, with the offers available through August 31.

• Charter Communications, which operates telecom services under the Spectrum brand, says it is opening around 8,000 out-of-home WiFi access points throughout Hawaii in order to assist first responders, residents and businesses with reliable broadband connectivity (those who want to take advantage of the free perk simply need to connect to the access point, then choose “free trial” and follow the instructions). The company has also launched free-to-access WiFi hotspots at four volunteer centers: War Memorial Gymnasium, Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center, War Memorial Stadium, and Iron Maehara Stadium.

Hawaiian Telcom, the main provider of land-based broadband Internet and phone service in Maui, says it is working to restore service to all affected residents and businesses. The company is coordinating with several local government agencies and first responders to provide free WiFi connections at several gyms and travel centers throughout the island.

T-Mobile says first responders in Maui are getting priority access to their 4G LTE and 5G wireless networks. Additionally, the company is working with Starlink to provide free WiFi hotspots at the Hyatt Regency in Maui, the Kapalua Airport and at the American Red Cross housing in Maluhia. All T-Mobile postpaid and prepaid customers in Hawaii, including Metro by T-Mobile subscribers, will have free talk, text and data through the end of August.

Verizon says its postpaid and prepaid customers in certain ZIP codes afflicted by the Maui wildfires will have unlimited calling, texting and data service from through August 23. Additionally, customers of Verizon’s prepaid brands — including Verizon Prepaid, Straight Talk, Simple Mobile, Walmart Family Mobile and Net10 — will have their service extended by one week if their renewal date fell between August 10 and August 14.

Movers & Shakers

Doris Burke will serve as a TV analyst for ESPN and ABC‘s NBA basketball games, including the NBA Finals, NBA Playoffs and NBA Christmas Day events. Burke becomes the first woman to serve as a TV analyst for a major men’s championship sports tournament in the United States. Burke will be joined by Doc Rivers and Mike Breen at the networks. ABC is wholly owned, and ESPN is majority-owned, by the Walt Disney Company.

• Kathleen ChoalAnita HeltNick NicholsonLyn Plantinga and Joe Poss have been promoted to regional vice president positions at E. W. Scripps Company, where they will oversee television stations across five regional groups. All five previously worked as general managers at various Scripps stations.

• Gabe Gutierrez has been promoted to senior White House correspondent at NBC News, replacing Kristen Welker, who is joining NBC’s flagship political affairs program “Meet the Press” as its new host and moderator. NBC is owned by Comcast.

Abby Phillips will anchor “CNN NewsNight” weeknights at 10 p.m., while colleague Laura Coates will host a new CNN program weeknights at 11 p.m. CNN is owned by Warner Bros Discovery.

• Pete Wilogren has been hired by Nexstar Media Group‘s Los Angeles CW station KTLA (Channel 5) to the newly-created role of managing director of content and coverage. He previously served as the assistant news director at Fox-owned KTTV (Channel 11).

If you would like to see your promotion or career change noted in our weekly recap, email [email protected] (subject line: “Movers & Shakers”). Please include your full name, current and prior job role/employer and a link to your social media profile of choice.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).