PO Box 87
Newtown, CT 06470
January 18, 2005 Minutes
CABLE ADVISORY COUNCIL
~ Minutes ~
Minutes of Public Regular Meeting – Tuesday, January 18, 2005 (rescheduled from January 11th due to inclement weather)
There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:01 p.m., Tuesday, January 18, 2005 by Chairperson, Carmella Amodeo at the Charter Communications facility, Newtown, Connecticut.
Jill Zaloski (Monroe), Eugene Rosen (Newtown), Carmella Amodeo, William Fredrickson (Southbury), Steve Donahue (New Milford), Kate Donahue (Trumbull), Tom Amatruda (Woodbury).
From Charter: Greg Antwerp, Len Romano.
No public present.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
The Treasurer’s Report will not be duplicated in the minutes in the future, it will be electronically transferred to members along with the minutes and agenda for each meeting.
Jill made a correction to the amount listed as the “Opening Balance”, it should read $11,349.46.
The bill for $2000 for Charter’s annual contribution (2005) to the Advisory Council has been submitted to Greg Van Antwerp. Greg has already submitted requests for the 2003 and 2004 amounts ($2000 each).
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS REPORT:
Greg presented a review of community access activity for the year and the latest CommuniTyVision newsletter.
Greg then reported that they are requesting permission from the DPUC to change the hours of the bill pay office in Winsted beginning March 31, 2005. They proposed to close the office at 5:00 PM instead of 6:00 PM due to low traffic.
Greg also reported a rash of complaints following the airing of the Shawn Isaacson show on the Winsted Community Access channel. There have been complaints following his program in the past however Charter has had little recourse to edit or remove his program unless it violates Charter’s community access rules – which it doesn’t. Mr. Isaacson’s First Amendment rights supersede any good taste judgments.
Bill Fredrickson requested an explanation as to why they can’t view Community Access channel 21 in Heritage Village. Greg will follow up to see if Charter can help resolve the problem.
Len Romano introduced himself as the new marketing manager who has taken over for Kathleen McLaud for Charter in Connecticut. He had several channel lineup changes to report. Fox Movies is being added to the digital tier (channel 199); MTV2 is moving from channel 115 to channel 74 (expanded basic); VHUno (Spanish language VH1) is taking over channel 115 and being added to the Family and Information tier and CNNfn is going off the air (Time Warner is shutting down the channel).
Len also reported a number of new promotions we should see soon. Charter High Speed Internet service is being promoted for $29.99 for the first 3 months. The service is for 3MB service and the cost will rise to $39.99 after the first three months. Carmella asked if current customers can move up to the 3MB service. Len responded that current 2 MB customers are automatically moved to 3 MB. Len pointed out that the 3MB service includes anti-virus and firewall protection (the customer needs to activate it) so customers won’t need Norton/McAfree. Carmella asked about a six hour service interruption last week during a billing equipment conversion. Len is checking on that.
Charter is still losing basic subscribers but they are building up customers for their other product lines.
Carmella asked why dish prices are lower and why cable can’t be more competitive. Len responded that cable provides local customer service that the dish companies can’t provide.
Len also reported that VOIP service is on its way – they are testing it but no rollout schedule has been adopted yet.
Len then reported a new acquisition campaign to attract new basic customers. The promotion offers basic, 3 digital tiers, the interactive guide, digital music and access to PPV and VOD for $29.99 (for 12 months).
Len then reported on rate changes effective 2/8/05. Most of the changes affect additional outlets and upgrade charges. Basic only and expanded customers will see rates rise 6.6%, digital and Internet customers will see no rate change. Kate observed that Charter is supposed to – by DPUC regulation – discuss rate and channel lineup changes with the Advisory Council BEFORE they take place.
Finally, Len reported on new products. Wireless home networking is about to be offered. It will be an installation only service (no monthly charge unless a customer wants network support (an optional service) for $5/month).
Charter continues to work on getting more HDTV signals – hampered by channel contract negotiations and signal reception issues. The local Fox affiliate in New York is not offering the Super Bowl on HDTV so Charter is trying to get it from a national feed.
Charter’s corporate CEO, Carl Vogel, has resigned. The interim CEO is Bob May who once served as Cablevision’s CEO. Carmella asked if Charter is stable and Greg responded that things are settling down after the recent reorganization. He feels there is a good level of collaboration in the Northeast region.
Greg mentioned he has a list of First Selectmen and Superintendents of Schools he uses for CommuniTyVision mailings and offer to share it with Kate so the Council can continue to do outreach for new members.
COMMUNICATIONS & CORRESPONDENCE:
Carmella read the correspondence and confirmed that Greg is already working on resolving the issues identified.
Carmella then brought up the Interrogatories we have to respond to. The questions posed and the Council’s responses are listed below:
CATV-17 Have inaccessiblity by telephone, long wait times and other telephone responsiveness issues or complaints been brought to the Council’s attention? If so, comment on the types of inquiries or complaints received, and the Company’s response thereto, if applicable.
Response: During the November 9, 2004 meeting of the Charter Communications Council, the issue of a customer having reported no response when contacting Charter by phone was brought to the attention of Charter representatives due to a complaint received by one of our members. Charter explained that there was an issue with the routing done by computer and that it has been corrected.
Prior to this, there had not been any noted complaints brought to the attention of the Council members.
CATV-18 What actions or measures does the Council believe are appropriate in light of Charter’s performance in complying with FA Sections 1.2 and 5.3 and Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-333k(3)?
Response: The Connecticut Statute requires that Charter have a phone response time equal to or less than two minutes. Reviewing the Quarterly telephone Reports submitted to the DPUC per docket number 02-07-09, it is apparent that Charter is not meeting this requirement when responding to calls received from the Connecticut area.
The Council encourages the use of virtual call centers and the continuance of the practice of coaching and training employees during paid overtime sessions.
The Council believes that Charter needs to continue to collect and interpret the phone statistics paying special attention to any results that reflect the effects of Service Center procedure modifications.
CATV-19 What actions or measures does the Council believe are appropriate to ensure the Company’s compliance with FA Sections 1.2 and 5.3 and Conn. Gen. Stat. § 16-333k(3)?
Response: The Council believes that Charter should be required to continue in the quarterly reporting, analyzing the statistics to reflect the activity for each KMA and each call center as a way to more clearly identify areas of weakness. It further believe that Charter should be required to include in its report, a descriptions of any corrective action taken such as any changes in procedure, staffing, call routing or other actions taken to reduce caller wait time and its affect on said wait time.
Web page: Jill has paid our bills through the end of 2004. She is concerned about the current webpage updating process. We use a student at Pomperaug to update the site but it isn’t happening very consistently. Kate confirmed that she recently checked the website and found a lot of out of date info. New member Steve Donahue volunteered to clean up the website and post the minutes in the future. Kate said she would review the site and send him corrections.
Several Council members indicated they appreciated Jim Lang’s mailbag notes and hope he continues to provide that service to the Council. Several members also questioned the results of the recent Charter customer survey. Charter was asked to clarify when the data was collected (the results summary says 2003 but we think it may really be from the 2004 survey). Kate pointed out that a less than 2% response rate is statistically insignificant and that the results are therefore of little or no value. She also pointed out (as Jim had in his comments) that the Council is supposed to participate in the development of the survey, not just handed the results after the fact. Suggestions were made regarding how to improve the response rates by printing the survey (if it continues to be included in with the bill) in a noticeable color so customers are less likely to overlook it and to offer an online response option. Len said he would take our comments under consideration.
Video Festival – tapes are in and the judges are set. We need a date ASAP for viewing the tapes and the awards ceremony. Carmella suggested we set the viewing date based on the judges availability and let the Council members know the date so they can come if they are available. Ditto on the awards ceremony.
Frank Catalano (Newtown) has resigned. No one has yet been appointed to take his place.
New member to the Council, Steve Donahue (New Milford) was welcomed.
Next Meeting: Tuesday, March 8, 2005 at 7:00 PM (note new time) at the Charter offices at 11 Commerce Drive (note new location).
The meeting was unanimously adjourned at 9:26 PM.
Respectfully submitted by: Kate Donahue, Secretary
Cable Advisory Council