CABLE ADVISORY COUNCIL

P. O. Box 87

Newtown, Connecticut

~ Minutes ~

Minutes of Public Regular Meeting Ė

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Newtown, CT

 

There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 12, 2013 by Chairman Gregory Davis at the Charter Communications facility, Newtown, Connecticut.

 

ATTENDEES:Chairman Gregory Davis (Roxbury), Carmella Amodeo (Newtown), Douglas Branson (Kent), Carl Braun (Woodbury), Kevin Burns (Newtown), Donna Cassidy (Trumbull), Kathy Colavito (Brookfield), Tom Joyner (Sherman), Ray Juskiewicz (New Fairfield), Jim Lang (Trumbull),George Linkletter (Sherman), Gene Rosen (Newtown) and Bernie Scheizt (Southbury-Alternate for Paul Katzmark)

 

From Charter: Tom Cohan (Director of Government Relations), Greg Van Antwerp (Public Access), and Heidi Vandenbrouch (Public Relations)

 

ROLL CALL: Chairman Gregory Davis called the meeting to order at 7:02pm.Council members introduced themselves.The board went over the packets with meeting documents.

 

PUBLIC INPUT:Sherman Representative George Linkletter thanked the Charter Director of Government Relations Tom Cohan for his quick response in resolving an issue with an elderly subscriber in Sherman.Mr. Linkletter noted that this woman is on a fixed income and had an issue with regarding the digital migration with her cable that was fixed quickly and to her satisfaction.This subscriber lives next door to another woman with a similar issue.Mr. Cohan noted that he did see an email in regard to this and will resolve this issue.

 

Chairman Gregory Davis spoke of how the transition to Digital Migration is causing some confusion among subscribers.It was suggested that Charter reach out to customers that may not be technically savvy to help with this transition.Tom Cohan noted that a letter was sent to all Basic customers that donít have a cable box.It was suggested that a message be put on the previous channel to notify subscribers of the change to the new channel.

 

George Linkletter made a motion that the cable advisory council recommends that Charter Communications offer a clear and logical transition to fully digital services with a transition program that will minimize customer confusion over the loss of directly decodable analog TV signals on the Cable services by legacy Analog TV tuners.Donna Cassidy seconded the motion- Vote: All in favor

 

SERVICE PROVIDER REPORTS:

Tom Cohan: Director of Government Relations Tom Cohan spoke of the following:

        Referred to an article sent from Charter called the Charter Communications and CBS Corporation Renew Content Carriage Agreements that was sent on January 29, 2013.

        Spoke of the Government Relations News update for March 2013 and explained digital programming and parental controls for channels.

 

Heidi Vandenbrouck: Public Relations and Communications Manager Heidi Vandenbrouck spoke of the pros and cons to going from Analog to all digital and noted this allows for more HD channels and faster speeds.

 

Greg Van Antwerp:

        Director of Public Access Greg Van Antwerp provided the council will a Public Access Report and a copy of the March/April Community Vision 21 Newsletter.

        Studio 21 Auditions- This allows local musicians an opportunity to play a brief set of three or four songs that will be recorded.This allows interns to get direct hands-on experience.Each musician will be given a recording of their performance. Mr. Van Antwerp invited council members to invite anyone they know that may be interested in auditions.

        Woodbury and Monroe Senior Centers have expressed an interest in activities.Charter will bring the equipment to the Senior Center and conduct classes.Anyone who knows of another Senior Center that may be interested should contact Greg Van Antwerp.

        Charter organized a Career Fair at Sacred Heart University

        Donna Cassidy asked if Charter was interested in attending College and Career Fairs

 
TREASURERíS REPORT:

Treasurer Carl Braun read the following Treasurerís report.The checking account balance is $3,508.07, the money market account balance is $6,160.39 and the 12 month CD has a balance of $13,513.98 for a total of assets at $23,182.44.

 

Jim Lang made a motion to accept the Treasurerís report as presented.Donna Cassidy seconded the motion.

Vote: All in favor

(Treasurerís report attached to the minutes of this meeting)

 

OLD BUSINESS

Correspondence of Appreciation

Chairman Gregory Davis spoke of a letter of appreciation sent to Charter acknowledging the support that Charter provided to the Newtown Public Schools in the wake of the December 14, 2012 tragedy.Mr. Davis thanked the Charter staff and specifically Mike Lee, Jonathan Wanzer and Mark Holbrook for their roles in helping to connect the Monroe Chalk Hill School to the existing public schoolís WAN.Chairman Davis thanked Advisory Council Vice Chairman Carmella Amodeo for her help in composing this letter.

 

Chairman Davis sent a letter to Newtownís First Selectman Patricia Llodra recognizing Advisory Council member Mr. Eugene Rosen for his quick thinking and caring actions for the children of Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14th.

 

January meeting minutes- Donna Cassidy made a motion to approve the minutes of the January 8, 2013 council meeting as presented.Jim Lang seconded the motion.

Vote: All in favor

 

Responses to motions made at previous meetings

Cultural Value of Legacy Channel Order Advisory

Gregory Davis spoke of a letter sent to Charter in response to a motion made at the last meeting recommending that Charter make a serious effort to preserve the embedded cultural value of the legacy channel ordering as Charter completes the transition into fully digital program content distribution.

 

Interconnection support for PURA Docket 13-01-06

A letter was sent to Kimberley Santopietro (Executive Secretary, PURA) with a copy to Tom Cohan (Charter), Kinson Perry (AT&T) and Merja Lehtinen (Chairman of the Statewide Video Advisory Council) reaffirming the Advisory Councilís position that the Cable Advisory Council will serve to promote Community Access interconnection between cable and video program providers serving CT PURA Map area 19, for Public, Educational, and Government groups of community based television program producers.

 

Annual Cable Advisory Council Report 2012

Gregory Davis spoke of the final Annual Report for 2012 that was submitted to PURA.This will also appear on Docket #13-01-06.

 

Travel Expense Reimbursement Policy

Gregory Davis spoke of the Travel Expense Reimbursement Policy that was adopted at the January 2013 meeting.This reimbursement is available to all council members and is strictly voluntary.It also applies to the Strategic Action Committee meetings.The reimbursement policy is retroactive to the January 2013 meeting and will sunset after two years.After the two year period, the policy will be reevaluated to see if it should be continued.

 

COUNCIL CHAIRMAN REPORT

Chairman Gregory Davis noted that the February 2013 Strategic Action Committee meeting was cancelled.The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 9th at 7:00pm at the Newtown Municipal Center.Anyone interested is invited to attend.

 

 

 

 

Statewide Video Advisory Council Report

The Statewide Video Advisory council met on February 27, 2013.The 2012 Annual Report and the December 2012 minutes were accepted.The 2012 Statewide Video Advisory Council report is posed to the Cable Advisory Councilís website.

 

Kinson Perry from AT&T reported at the SVAC meeting that Region 19 Interconnect will proceed with any and all interested Education Access channel interconnections for Regions 12, 14, 15, Newtown, Brookfield, New Milford, Kent and Sherman.Community Vision 21 interconnection with Charter will be negotiated separately.The Telecommunications and Modernization Act HB6402 which died on the floor in the 2012 Legislative session is currently active.

 

PEGPETIA Grant Support for Public Schools

The application for Region 12 School District for a PEGPETIA grant is in progress and it is hopeful that a final decision will be received by May 2013.

 

NEW BUSINESS

Community & Education/Local Government Access Television Interconnection Status

Chairman Gregory Davis noted that the designated community access provider television channels which are NOT available on ATT U-Verse include Cable Franchise Areas are 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10,13,19,20,21,22,23&24. Currently, 66% remain unconnected after seven years.At a prior Advisory Council meeting, a survey was provided by AT&T to identify who the contact people are and what channels are they looking to connect.†† Mr. Davis noted that applications have recently been forwarded to AT&T for Brookfield, New Milford, Region 12 and Region 15.Applications have been provided to and contacts have been made with Region 14 and Newtown.Connections with Trumbull, Monroe and New Fairfield have been established prior to 2013.

 

Chairman Davis noted that in his opinion AT&T has decided to work around connection negotiations with Charter and noted that this tactic is more expensive, compared with collecting all of the Channel 17 Educational/Governmental Programming streams and Channel 21 Community Access Programming for a single point.

 

Donna Cassidy made a motion to move the following forward:Active members (approximately 25%) serving on the Cable Advisory Council are being denied their right to view programming for which they have paid from their Designated Community Access Provider in PURA Map area 19 because they have selected AT&T U-Verse as their Certified Video Program Provider.Dedicated advisory council members who volunteer their time and expertise are seriously impaired in their duties as specified in CGS 16-331a (b), 16-331a(c1), 16-331a(c8), 16-331A(g), 16-331a(h).This cable advisory council submits that PURA should investigate this denial of services in the Annual Community Access Review.Kevin Burns seconded the motion.Vote: All in favor

 

There was a brief discussion of how this can be accomplished.Jim Lang asked that Tom Cohan from Charter look into this again with AT&T.

 

Sports Free Tier

Gregory Davis spoke of an article in the New York Times regarding rising TV fees due to Sports channels which everyone must pay for.Mr. Davis spoke of two possibilities for the Advisory Channel for possible action:

1.      Advising Charter to implement a non-bundled, or more commonly called an a la cart, program option, for cable customers (beyond basic tier); and

2.      Advising Charter to implement a sports-intensive program bundle along with a sports-free program bundle, option.

 

The following motion will advise Charter:

 

Tom Joyner made a motion that the PURA Area 19 Cable Advisory Council recommends that the Telecommunications Modernization Act include more modern subscriber choices, with full respect to Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United State Constitution, of digital program content distribution services provided by CT CCFA and CVFA license holders who would specifically provide for program bundling which promotes:

1.      A SPORTS HEAVY extended Basic service, appropriately priced to cover the programming costs for Sports channels devoting more than 25% of peak viewing hours to sports.

2.      A SPORTS FREE extended Basic service, appropriately prices to reflect the cost discount of properly shifting the programming costs to the viewers which desire the sports channels.

3.      Advise Charter to implement a non-bundled or an a la cart program option, for Cable customers beyond the basic tier.

Carl Braun seconded the motion.Vote: All in favor except Ray Juskiewicz who abstained

 

The following motion will advise the State Legislature:

 

Gene Rosen made a motion that the PURA Area 19 Cable Advisory Council recommends that the Telecommunications Modernization Act include more modern subscriber choices, with full respect to Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United State Constitution, of digital program content distribution services provided by CT CCFA and CVFA license holders who would specifically provide for program bundling which promotes:

1.      A SPORTS HEAVY extended Basic service, appropriately priced to cover the programming costs for Sports channels devoting more than 25% of peak viewing hours to sports.

2.      A SPORTS FREE extended Basic service, appropriately prices to reflect the cost discount of properly shifting the programming costs to the viewers which desire the sports channels.

3.      Advise Charter to implement a non-bundled or an a la cart program option, for Cable customers beyond the basic tier.

Donna Cassidy seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor except Ray Juskiewicz who abstained

 

 

Jim Lang suggested targeting Federal legislature on this issue.It was decided to discuss this further at a future meeting.

 

Legal Support Initiative Fund (LSIF)

Gregory Davis spoke of the Treasury report which includes an account line named ď12 month CDĒ and suggested changing the name of the account to the Legal Support Initiative Fund.The reason for this is to give this fund a formal designation and to remove the cash asset category.There was a brief discussion of the purpose of this and whether or not LSIF was an appropriate name.It was decided to table this item until a future meeting.

 

Digital Migration

Tom Joyner asked if it was possible to get the HD Digital channels without a box.Tom Cohan noted that they were available but and may be at the higher channels but noted that the industry is going towards encryption so in the future it may not be possible to get these channels without a box.

 

Policy for AV recording of Cable Advisory Council Meetings

Gregory Davis spoke of the policy for recording meetings and noted that this will be discussed further at a future meeting.

 

OPEN FORUM

Tom Cohan spoke of the possibility of changing the Cable Advisory Council schedule to have quarterly meetings (4 a year) instead of the scheduled six.The council noted that they will take this under advisement at the next meeting.

 

ADJOURNMENT:

Donna Cassidy made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:54pm.Kathy Colavito seconded the motion.Vote: All in favor