The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 20, 2009

Town eyes cable TV contract options

The Cable Advisory Committee met on November 9 to discuss renewing the town’s cable contract with Comcast. The current ten year contract with Comcast expires in October 2011 and this is the town’s opportunity to negotiate improved terms.

The Cable Advisory Committee is assessing Carlisle’s cable TV needs to prepare for these negotiations. In exchange for the town’s committment to Comcast, the state requires ComCast to pay Carlisle a franchise fee (a percentage of the town’s cable revenue between 3 - 5%) to be used on behalf of local residents. In the past, Comcast has contributed funds for purchase of equipment, extended cable service within the town, including wiring public buildings, and given money that the town passed on to CCTV to develop community programming on Channels 8, 9 and 10.

Since the new contract is lengthy, complicated, and binding for ten years, the committee has decided to hire legal counsel to help with negoations. Three firms are being considered: William Solomon, Epstein & August, and Deutsch Williams. So far the committee has set the following questions as priorities to be determined by legal counsel:

• Considering the rapid pace of technology development is a ten year term in Carlisle’s best interest?

• What kind of capital investment should be requested from Comcast on this round? The committee is surveying other small towns like Carlisle to find out what kind of terms they have negotiated.

• Can Carlisle increase the franchise fee from 3% to 5%?

• Would Comcast provide funds to build a TV studio in the Highland Building for the school? Currently, CCTV production facilities are 20 minutes away, making it very difficult for the school to take advantage of their services. How can the new contract best support Carlisle’s media education curriculum?

• Can Carlisle get TV production equipment for the school, such as green screens and cameras for Corey Auditorium? This wish list may be informed by results of the committee’s survey of what other towns have received.

• Can/should the town upgrade wiring to all public buildings (including schools) for better cable and internet service? What kind of public buildings can be included, in addition to Town Hall?

• Is it possible to get a lower Senior Rate on cable TV for subscribers over 65 years of age?

• Is equipment, infrastructure and training available to enable the town to broadcast school sporting events, plays, Union Hall concerts or other town-sponsored events?

Considering the large role that cable plays in the daily lives of townspeople, the way these questions are answered could have a broad and long-term (ten years) effect on residents’ lives. The Cable Advisory Committee welcomes input from town residents. In fact, the committee plans to include questions pertaining to cable in the next town-wide survey, to be distributed in January. Committee members include Michael Tattersall, Justin Romeo, Selectmen Bill Tice, and Town Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth DeMille Barnett. The next meeting of the Cable Advisory Committee will be on December 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito