PO Box 87
Newtown, CT 06470
March 14, 2006 Minutes
CABLE ADVISORY COUNCIL
~ Minutes ~
Minutes of Public Regular Meeting – Tuesday, March 14, 2006
There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:07 p.m., Tuesday, March 14, 2006 by Chair, Carmella Amodeo at the Charter Communications facility, Newtown, Connecticut.
Eugene Rosen (Newtown), Steve Donahue (New Milford), Kate Donahue (Trumbull), Jill Hamilton (Monroe), Jim Lang (Trumbull), Carmella Amodeo (Newtown), Carl Braun (Woodbury).
From Charter: Greg Van Antwerp, Jacky Saulnier.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Minutes approved with clarification that the minutes will be distributed by the system set up by Steve Donahue to those who wish to receive them via email. Motion by Lang, second by Braun; passed 7-0 as amended.
Motion by Lang, seconded by S. Donahue to accept the Treasurer’s report; passed 7-0.
Jill Hamilton is moving to Tennessee in August. July will be her last meeting will need to elect a new Treasurer.
Got the 2006 $2000 check from Charter. Jill will be adjusting the treasurer’s report to reflect the most recent statements. She also noted that we have no tax ID number, we should have one. She is looking into 501c3 status.
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS REPORT:
Carmella asked about a rumor that Charter is moving their offices. We were told that is not the case.
Customer survey: Jacky distributed the results. The Council reiterated that they could help improve the survey is they had been included earlier in the process. It was also noted by the Council that there are lessons to be learned from the survey regarding where their customer communications are falling short. Jacky indicated that next year the survey will be available in a number of formats: online, paper, etc.
It was noted that the Basic + Expanded Basic (analog) package are the same price as the basic digital package.
The Council (again) noted that we keep asking Charter management for an opportunity for input before programming changes and rate changes are made.
Motion made: Move that the Council write the DPUC indicating that Charter did not consult with our Council prior to requesting moving Hallmark Channel from channel 54 to 197 and the Golf Channel. Motion by Amodeo, second by Braun. Passed 7-0.
Motion made: Move that the Council write to Georgia Griffith in Massachusetts complaining that they consistently fail to consult with this Council prior to making changes in rates and services that significantly affect their subscribers. Motion by Lang, second Rosen. Passed 6-1
Greg reported he is doing a lot of truck shoots and trying to revive the “Home Front Live” show – they need hosts. They are shooting the THS Fashion Show and will send Kate a DVD for airing on Trumbull’s Channel 17.
COMMUNICATIONS & CORRESPONDENCE:
Mailbag: See below.
Support of Pending Legislation:
Greg is not sure how all these items would impact their existing programs. General discussion.
Motion made: Move to contact Atty Pizzella and indicate our general agreement with points 1, 2, 3 (with addition of the word “only” between “franchise” and “upon”), 4, 5, 7, 10, 11. We would request additional clarification of items 6, 8, and 9 as we continue to consider our support for those items. Motion by Amodeo, second Hamilton. Passed 7-0.
Sending out minutes – marking up sign in sheet.
Video Festival: Need to move the March 18 award ceremony date to April 1 or April 29. Jill will let us know.
Grant process: Carl not here. Consider at next meeting.
TO DO LIST:
The meeting was unanimously adjourned at 9:31 PM.
Respectfully submitted by: Kate Donahue, Secretary
Charter Communications Advisory Committee (Newtown)
(1) Approximately 7% of Charter subscribers experienced some service outage in January. This is an improvement – it was 15%.
(2) Subscriber penetration decreased in January -0.2%. Homes passed increased slightly. This gradual loss continues from month to month.
(3) Charter’s request for rate increase effective February 1 was approved by DPUC. Our Advisory Council made no comment on this increase. Charter Communications did not consult with our Council prior to requesting or announcing this increase.
(4) Charter advised DPUC of channel lineup changes affective April 4th. Hallmark, F/X and the History Channel will be relocated (Hallmark 54-197, F/X 42-44, History 44-54) This reduces by one the channels in the Expanded Service tier and adds Hallmark to The Family Tier. Charter will add two new channels to the HDTV tier – WFSB-3 from Hartford (783) and Universal HD (795). I don’t believe these changes were discussed with the Advisory Council. The Hallmark Channel move affects consumers in a negative way.
(5) Regarding the DPUC docket covering number of Community Access Channels, the commission decided that no changes in existing regulations are warranted. However, our Advisory Council may want to refer to this discussion when Charter applies for franchise renewal. Some other cable operators seem to be doing a better job of serving the unique needs of individual communities.
(6) Lots of DPUC Traffic relative to AT&T’s effort to enter the wired entertainment services market. Of specific interest to us is that AT&T wishes to be exempt from any Community Service Programming requirement such as those on Cable providers. AT&T argues first that they are exempt from DPUC requirements due to differences in the distribution strategy. Next they argue that meeting the Cable Provider standards of Community Access would be burdensome and stifle competition. Local organizations concerned with community service and Cablevision claim otherwise.
Due to Cablevision’s excellent record of Community Access programming, News Channel 12 local programming, and active government and educational channels in each local community, they have been able to garner significant local support for their position.
Not surprisingly the battle lines are drawn in the lucrative Fairfield County franchise(s). It is not fully clear to me if AT&T intends to operate in the entire state, all of Fairfield County or just the section served by Cablevision. If they intend to serve all of Fairfield County then this would impact Charter Cable. Several of Charter’s largest communities are in Fairfield County – Trumbull, Newtown, Monroe are three of them. I do not believe that Charter has made any official comment on this matter.
(7) Letter from Mrs. R S Johnstone complaining about high rate for basic service. She claims to be paying $71.07 for basic service. She requests a written response from our Council.
(8) Letter from Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lynch complaining about Charter’s request to move the Hallmark Channel from the Expanded Basic Tier. She requests a written response from our Council.
Cable Advisory Council