P. O. Box 87
Regular Meeting - Tuesday, October 9, 2001
New Milford Public Library, New Milford
There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order
at 7:32 p.m. October 9, 2001 by Chairperson, Carl DeVoe at the New Milford
Public Library, New Milford, Connecticut.
William Stratton, John Danscuk, Rick Levy, Alex Forbes, Jill Zaloski,
Eileen Sundstrom, Paula Hopper, Carmella Amodeo, Joe Mustich, Ken Cornet,
Carl DeVoe, Chairperson. For Charter: Janice Vance, John Dee, Dick Elwell,
and Greg Van Antwerp.
No public present.
P. Hopper asked that the July 10 Minutes be amended to reflect that she
was an attendee. (She further suggested that a role call be done at the
beginning of the meeting, in addition to the sign-up sheet.) A motion
to accept the Minutes of the July 10, 2001 meeting, as amended, was made
by R. Levy and seconded by P. Hopper, and carried unanimously.
In F. Standt’s absence, C. DeVoe provided the Treasurer's Report,
originally prepared for the September 11, 2001 meeting.
balance of the checking Account (7/10/01). . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . $ 568.80
CHECKS WRITTEN: Newtown Secretarial Svc. (#157 -$233.71)
Money Market Account (#158 – 2,000) (2,233.71)
DEPOSIT (7/13/01) 2,000.00
Closing balance 7/10/01. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 335.09
Opening Balance on the Money Market Account (7/10/01). . . . . . . . .
. . . . 8,920.20
Interest (to 7/30/01) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26.53
Deposit (Check #158). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,000.00
Closing Balance (5/9/01). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10,946.73
1 yr. plus CD @ $10,487.91+ int. cred. = $10,598.91
FUNDS = $21,880.73
DeVoe indicated he had an inquiry from the New Fairfield Public Schools
about our grant programs. They are in the process of trying to set up
an access channel. Ernie Esposito is the person who has been in contact
with Charter regarding this matter, and he may be appointed to the Council.
DeVoe asked if anyone has questions to be posed to F. Standt for response
at the next meeting. A question was posed regarding any monies received
from Charter or SNET, and C. DeVoe indicated that a check had been received
from Charter, but he did not have any information on anything received
yet from SNET.
COMMUNICATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
C. DeVoe reviewed correspondence received, including the DPUC’s
letter regarding Charter’s request for exemption from 30-day notice
for change in programming, indicating approval; a letter from Town of
Monroe, re-appointing Alex Forbes and John Danscuk to the Council; a letter
from the DPUC approving new rates for basic programming, installation,
service and equipment rentals for the year beginning August 1, 2001 (Charter
will continue to charge existing rate for basic service but does have
approval to increase); and letters from Charter’s attorneys regarding
planned programming changes; CATV reports. Two letters were also received
from customers, one being Greg Brown in Trumbull, regarding loss of service
of Charter Pipeline for three days. John Dee indicated that there was
a problem with the Pipeline service which was remedied, but there were
5 towns that were significantly impacted – Trumbull, Monroe, Newtown,
Roxbury and Southbury. P. Hopper indicated she also had a couple letters
from individuals regarding this problem. She further indicated that there
have been numerous complaints, over time, regarding poor response rate
in answering telephones and getting transferred to several individuals.
He indicated customers in those areas were sent certificates for a credit
equal to one-half month’s fee. He further indicated that since the
upgrade was done to remedy the problems with Pipeline, problems have been
reduced considerably. J. Dee also indicated that additional personnel
have been added to support Pipeline issues. In addition, approximately
10 more individuals are scheduled to be added to the telephones within
the next couple weeks, which will add to the existing staff by 25%. This
should drastically improve the response time to answering incoming calls.
The second letter received was from Bridget Kelly of Shelton, regarding
a debt issue surrounding failure to return a cable box upon termination
of service and being sent to collection. Both letters were referred to
Janice Vance for response. Janice also commented on an article in the
Danbury News-Times regarding the Pipeline issue, indicating that they
had incorrectly reported facts and further indicating that, upon resolution
of the problem, she issued a press release to them for publication, but
they never printed it. P. Hopper questioned Charter as to their procedure
for responding to letters from customers. J. Dee indicated there are four
people, including himself, responsible for ensuring that letters received
are responded to. He further indicated that in the future they are planning
to have one person dedicated to the effort of responding to letters and
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS REPORT:
J. Dee indicated they have increased their effort to communicate with
customers more effectively. They have hired a regional customer care manager,
Tracey Pitcher, who will be resident in the Newtown office but will be
overseeing the call center in Worcester, Massachusetts as well. J. Dee
indicated they have broken ground for the new building, with a completion
date set for mid-January 2002. They are hoping to have personnel in that
building by mid-February. He indicated they are attempting to gain approval
for an additional 7,000 to 10,000 square feet to allow for future growth.
D. Elwell discussed the involvement of the Advisory Council in the refranchising
process. He indicated that, despite early dissatisfaction by the Council
members on the survey process, the DPUC does weigh heavily on input from
the Council and they will have a public hearing on the matter as well.
He indicated this would probably be conducted in December. Since the Advisory
Council is an Intervener in the process, they will be copied on all correspondence.
C. DeVoe indicated that, when the calendar is received from the DPUC,
it will be distributed to all members. J. Vance indicated it would also
be available on the DPUC web site. J. Vance indicated the work at Heritage
Village is almost complete. She indicated a presentation was held for
200 individuals on the new system, and they are really excited about the
changes. E. Sundstrom asked about the program listings, indicating that
there have been several times she has attempted to tape something on ESPN2
scheduled for a particular time, only to find that the programming has
changed. J. Vance indicated the programming data is sold by a third-party
company to vendors, and further indicated that the broadcast channels
and sports channels are most likely to reschedule airing events. J. Vance
indicated that in November they will be launching Video-On-Demand. It
is similar to pay-per-view, but you it is not scheduled programming and
you can view it at any time. Once you purchase it, it remains available
to you until Midnight that day. It will be available on Channel 999. There
will be 300 titles a month. There is also another service – Subscription
Video on Demand – where you can subscribe to a children’s
service and there are 20-30 children’s titles, for $9.99 per month.
These services will be launched on a town-by-town basis. Charter is the
first company in Connecticut to offer Video-On-Demand service. J. Zaloski
indicated she had received complaints about a poor signal for reception
of Channel 17 in certain areas of Monroe, and asked who people should
contact regarding this problem. J. Dee said they could contact him and
he’ll check into it. Greg Van Antwerp distributed the latest newsletter
and access report. He discussed new equipment that has been purchased
for use in the studios, including camcorders, monitors and a digital editor.
They will be training people on the use of the new equipment. He updated
the Council on the mobile truck shoots and indicated this has been a good
training experience for the interns. G. Van Antwerp also discussed another
concept that will be introduced shortly called Studio in a Box. This was
another idea put forward by James Diaz, where necessary equipment for
remote shoots is contained within one case and can be utilized by individuals
to tape events where the truck is not appropriate or is not available.
They are awaiting arrival of all of the equipment, and it will be introduced
in the near future.
Committee Report - P. Hopper thanked Charter Communication for their offer
to match the grant the Council is sponsoring, and asked that it be put
in writing. She also noted that, since there will be a larger amount of
money available for grant than expected, the committee is considering
offering two separate grants – one for students and one for residents
(over age 21) who are not students. J. Vance asked if there was a specific
dollar amount, and P. Hopper indicated the Council was contributing $1,000,
and Charter was contributing $1,000 as a match. R. Levy questioned how
the money would be used, and P. Hopper indicated that would be left up
to the recipient, but the committee would set guidelines. She indicated
their primary concern was merit, creativity and quality of the production.
Site - T. Joyner was not present; deferred to next meeting.
Assessment - C. DeVoe passed out the Executive Summary of the survey results
conducted by Hickory Mountain Associates, indicating a full copy of the
report was available for anyone wishing to see it. R. Levy made a motion
to postpone discussion about the needs assessment until the next meeting,
to give everyone an opportunity to review the report. C. DeVoe indicated
he had a few comments, indicating they make several recommendations, and
come to several conclusions, and feels these are items that need to be
addressed in terms of the survey and what people are looking for and how
people felt about certain issues. He asked council members to pay particular
attention to these items as they review the document, stating that many
of the items were not ones that had been discussed previously by the council.
C. DeVoe indicated that the report indicates only 20%+ are aware that
the Advisory Council even exists. J. Dee indicated that was actually considered
to be high. C. DeVoe pointed out that one of the comments in the report
indicated that HMA knows of no other cable operators who have gone further
than Charter has with distance learning projects in the United States.
He further stated that he doesn’t believe enough people are aware
of this program. E. Sundstrom and K. Cornet indicated they did not feel
the questions asked were of the nature that would result in answers representative
of the average consumer. C. DeVoe reminded them that, based on a conversation
with a DPUC representative, councils are not involved in the actual creation
of the document; the survey is done by an independent company. P. Hopper
stated that was in direct conflict with the letter of August 2000, which
indicated one of the steps in the franchise renewal process was the assessment
of the cable-related community needs, and developed jointly by the Department,
the Office of Consumer Council and the local advisory council. She cited
this as being pursuant to Item 16-331f of the General Statutes of the
State of Connecticut. P. Hopper stated, not only is this a conflict, but
the survey was underway one month before the council saw it. C. DeVoe
indicated that the document she was referring to was a year old, and they
were seeking input at that time and that if anyone had an item of concern,
it should have been submitted to the DPUC at that time. K. Cornet indicated
that it was his belief this should have been discussed and responded to
by the council as a whole, and not as individuals. R. Levy motioned that
the council write a letter to the DPUC, indicating the council’s
dissatisfaction with the process and the fact they did not feel they had
appropriate input in the production of the survey. P. Hopper seconded
the motion. W. Stratton questioned when the letter was written and to
whom it was sent. P. Hopper indicated it was sent to all parties and interveners,
and the letter was dated August 2, 2000. W. Stratton suggested that a
statement be made at the hearing, since the hearings are open to the public
and the hearing is recorded. He further suggested that, if a letter is
being sent to the DPUC, the letter be read at the hearing. W. Stratton
also suggested that someone should check the statute referred to in the
letter, to see if it was an excerpt and/or how the statute actually reads
as far as the Council’s participation is concerned. K. Cornet reiterated
that it should be the Council that responds and not individuals, as he
may have items of concern that are beyond those of the Council. P. Hopper
and K. Cornet stated that this item should have been discussed by the
council, and responded to, at an earlier time. R. Levy motioned to amend
his earlier motion to table this item until the next meeting, so all members
can review the results of the survey, and a decision be made at that time
as to whether a letter should be written. A. Forbes seconded the motion
to amend, and it carried by a vote of 7 in favor, 4 opposed.
R. Levy commended on what a great job Greg Van Antwerp did in Kent on
the remote shoot, stating it was a great example of community effort.
question was raised regarding the status of Channel 9. J. Vance indicated
there are two PX stations and, due to the “must carry” status,
there may be duplication in programming.
Levy asked questions relative to the privacy issue, referencing an article
in the August 28 issue of the Waterbury Republican, as to Charter’s
awareness of vulnerability. J. Vance indicated subscribers are given information
warning against this. There were also questions regarding Charter’s
disaster recovery plan. J. Dee indicated there is a disaster plan required
by the DPUC and that has recently been updated.
J. Danscuk motioned to adjourn the meeting at 9:30 p.m. K. Cornet seconded
the motion and it carried unanimously.
submitted by: Lorna J. Szalay, Recording Secretary
MEETING: Tuesday, November 13 at Charter Communications Offices in Newtown.