CABLE ADVISORY COUNCIL
Minutes of Public Regular Meeting –
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:10 p.m., Tuesday, March 11, 2014 by Chairman Gregory Davis at the Charter Communications facility, Newtown, Connecticut.
ATTENDEES: Chairman Gregory Davis (Roxbury), Douglas Branson (Kent), Kevin Burns (Newtown), Donna Cassidy (Trumbull), Ray Juskiewicz (New Fairfield), Paul Katzmark (Southbury), Jim Lang (Trumbull), George Linkletter (Sherman), Joe Mustich (Washington), Mike Muttitt (Monroe), Bob O’Keefe (Newtown) and Stephanie O’Rourke (Kent)
From Charter: Tom Cohan (Director of Government Relations), (Greg Van Antwerp (Public Access) and Heidi Vandenbrouck (Public Relations)
ROLL CALL: The board reviewed the packets with meeting documents and board members introduced themselves. Gregory Davis spoke of all the motions and filing that the council accomplished in the last year.
PUBLIC INPUT: None
SERVICE PROVIDER REPORTS:
Tom Cohan (Director of Government Relations) gave the council information regarding Charter Communications Connecticut State fact sheet and a response to the advisory council’s question regarding its privacy policies.
The Annual report for Community Access for 2013 was submitted and is currently on the PURA website.
PURA issued a draft report which proposed a Charter community rate increase of $7.75 per customer which is up .10 from last year.
Mr. Cohan responded to the three questions from the January 2014 meeting:
Charter does offer a Basic Cable Service- Current Rate Card information is available on the Charter website at www.charter.com. He spoke of the “must carry rights”.
Charter does everything it can to provide the optimal signal on all channels of programming provided to its customers. In the second half of 2014, Charter will be upgrading their entire system to All Digital.
Mr. Cohan noted that Kinson Perry from AT&T has retired. There will be a conference call with attorneys for AT&T regarding interconnection.
Heidi Vandenbrouck- (Public Relations)
Charter will be going to all digital and will have over 200 HD channels. There will also be a speed increase. A box is needed for all customers. It is anticipated that it is easy to install. If a customer attempts to install the box themselves but needs assistance, the fee for a technician will be waived. There was a discussion among the council members regarding the roll out.
Greg Van Antwerp- (Public Access) spoke of the following:
Provided the council with the most recent Newsletter from March/April 2014
Charter has been working the Council on the Aging in Newtown and is producing Newtown Senior News.
The Easton Private School came in to film special effects for Peter Pan.
Charter is entering their “Training Program” in the Beacon Awards.
Donna Cassidy asked about the possibility of filming a forum in Trumbull regarding college and career readiness.
Jim Lang made a motion to accept the minutes from the January 14, 2014 meeting as presented. Ray Juskiewicz seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor
Paul Katzmark went over the Income Statement, Balance Sheet and for the period of January 2014 to March 2014. The Travel Expense Cash Box for 2013 was also discussed. The date on the Income Statement should read March 1, 2014 instead of December 31, 2013.
Jim Lang made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report as corrected. Donna Cassidy seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor
COUNCIL CHAIRMAN REPORT
Chairman Gregory Davis reviewed the Annual Report that was submitted to PURA for the period ending December 31, 2013. This included a list of council members and towns that they serve and a summary of council activities for 2013. It was noted that 21 major motions were passed by the council in 2013. These motions can be found on the CAC’s website. The Annual Report also included an accounting of financial activities
Donna Cassidy made a motion to accept the filing of the Annual Report to PURA on behalf of the Cable Advisory Council. Mike Muttitt seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor
There was a brief discussion of whether or not the Cable Advisory Council should be the entity to reimburse their chairman for mileage to attend the Statewide Video Advisory Council.
Paul Katzmark made a motion to advise the Statewide Video Advisory to reimburse attending members for mileage for attending the SVAC meetings. George Linkletter seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor except Jim Lang
Statewide Video Advisory Council
Gregory Davis reviewed the meeting agenda for the February 12th SVAC meeting. At that meeting, an action was taken to recommend to the Senate and House of Representatives to amend Section 16-331a of the general statues to include:
(p) Each company or organization required by a franchise agreement to provide funding to an affiliated local nonprofit community access provider prior to October 1, 2007, shall continue to provide such funding in a substantially similar manner and amount and
(q) Each company or organization designated as a community access provider pursuant to subsection (c) of this section and located in a franchise area consisting of more than one town shall allocate the funds it receives pursuant to subsection (k) of this section in a manner which equitable supports the community access needs of the towns and/or local nonprofit community access providers within said franchise area.
A balance sheet showing activity for the Statewide Video Advisory Council for the year 2013 was also provided.
Gregory Davis spoke of the top 10 stories relating to Cable TV for March 6, 2014. They include:
U.S. Solicitor General Supporting TV Broadcasters in Aereo Fight
Disney and Dish Settle Legal Issues over Hopper
Cable Channels Fined for misuse of Emergency Alert Signal
Verizon FIOS starts selling full TV seasons
Cablevision: Broadcaster Anti-Aereo Argument is Myopic
You won’t believe how big TV still Is
AT&T U-verse Amps up TV Everywhere Offering
Most Americans Would Choose Internet over TV of Cell phones
Netflix CFO: Comcast deal was essential
OTT to Drive Quad-Play TV Bundles to Extinction
The Point of Aereo?
Gregory Davis spoke of an article by Deborah McAdams questioning the point of Aereo.
Comcast and Netflix Deal
Gregory Davis spoke of an article written by Dan Rayburn about how the Comcast and Netflix deal is structured. Mr. Davis spoke of the advantages of the Comcast/Netflix deal to customers.
OTT-Over the Top
Gregory Davis spoke of an article entitled “OTT to drive quad-play TV bundles to extinction”. This article predicts that in the not so distant future, TV operators are likely to trade quad-play residential bundles (i.e., voice, video, Internet access and wireless) for a dual-play of landline and wireless broadband. All other services, including video could simply be applications. Mr. Davis spoke of the implications of this.
Gregory Davis spoke of an article entitled “Interesting Times” written by Tom Butts, Editor-in-chief from TV Technology. This article speaks of many events especially the merger between Charter and TWC and how it will affect cable television in the near future.
Gregory Davis reviewed the Prime Directive of the Cable Advisory Council and noted that the CAC is charged with carrying the work set forth in CT law as an extension of the PURA. This Prime Directive was a council decision approved on September 11, 2012.
AT&T U-Verse Interconnect update
Gregory Davis noted that Kinson Perry from AT&T has retired. Mr. Davis spoke of whether or not there was any motivation for AT&T to achieve interconnection. Tom Cohan from Charter noted that he will be meeting with AT&T representatives regarding interconnection.
Chairman Davis suggested that the council send a letter to Kathleen Quinn Abernathy at Frontier Communications advising them to insist that interconnection with the Designated Community Access Providers is accomplished before AT&T hands off operation to Frontier Communications. There was a brief discussion of the effect of sending a letter.
George Linkletter made a motion to send the letter suggested by Chairman Davis with the deletion of the last sentence to Frontier Communications pending a discussion between Chairman Davis and Tom Cohan regarding the progress of the meeting with Charter on March 13th. Donna Cassidy seconded the motion.
Vote: All in favor
It was noted that the suggested letter will be sent to Frontier if there is no reasonable action plan or commitment for connection. Jim Lang suggested that a time frame be given.
Letter to PURA
Chairman Davis suggested sending a letter to PURA to encourage AT&T to get the Interconnection done and noting that the lack of interconnection should be a factor in granting control from AT&T U-Verse to Frontier. PURA would like the Advisory Council to submit a letter to them outlining how large this issue is, how many towns are involved, how many customers are involved and when the law was passed. Such letter would explain how large the issue is and how many people are involved. This letter will be written after the March 13th meeting and before the next CAC meeting. Chairman Davis noted that he will send a copy to the council members before sending.
Jim Lang made a motion to authorize the chairman to send a letter to PURA outlining the following facts and encouraging AT&T to get the Interconnection done.
Number of towns involved
Number of customers involved and when the law was passed
Paul Katzmark seconded the motion.
Vote: All in favor
Tom Cohan suggested having the letter come from the Statewide Video Advisory Council instead of the Cable Advisory Council.
Lowest Cost Basic Service Tier
Gregory Davis spoke of a Chairman’s Announcement that he wrote entitled “Paying Too Much for Cable TV?” This article explains the options for basic cable and the process for doing this. There was a brief discussion of getting Charter to promote Basic Cable.
Mr. Davis gave a sample letter that council members send to their Mayor or First Selectman and a sample letter that members can send to the area Senior Centers asking for help with promoting Basic Cable. There was a brief discussion of the language of the letters and it was noted that the letters should have a positive tone.
Donna Cassidy made a motion to send a letter to Tom Cohan at Charter noting that the Advisory Council will help Charter Communications do a better job promoting the availability of the lowest cost Basic Service Tier in the Towns of PURA area 19. Stephanie O’Rourke seconded the motion.
Vote: All in favor
Jim Lang noted that the Trumbull Education meetings are now available on demand on the Internet through the Town of Trumbull website.
Ray Juskiewicz made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:50pm.
Vote: All in favor
Cable Advisory Council Regular Meeting Minutes, Tuesday, March 11, 2014