CABLE ADVISORY COUNCIL

P. O. Box 87

Newtown, Connecticut

~ Minutes ~

Minutes of Public Regular Meeting –

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Newtown, CT

 

There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 11, 2012 by Chairman Gregory Davis at the Charter Communications facility, Newtown, Connecticut.

 

ATTENDEES:  Chairman Gregory Davis (Roxbury), Vice Chairman Carmella Amodeo (Newtown), Carl Braun (Woodbury), Kevin Burns (Newtown), Donna Cassidy (Trumbull), Kathy Colavito (Brookfield), George Fletcher (New Milford), Jonathan Gibney (Brookfield), Ray Juskiewicz (New Fairfield), Paul Katzmark (Southbury), Jim Lang (Trumbull),George Linkletter (Sherman), Stephanie O’Rourke (Kent), Gene Rosen (Newtown)   Guests: Ken Cornet (Washington), Joe Mustick (Washington) and Ken Swain (Bridgewater)

 

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

 

ROLL CALL: The council members introduced themselves

 

PUBLIC INPUT: Subscriber Joe Mustick read a letter sent to the Cable Advisory Council from Subscriber Ken Cornet regarding the increase in price for basic cable.  It was noted that subscribers of basic cable are being asked to pay an additional $10 per TV and have also lost 6 channels that used to be available with the Basic TV Package.

 

Director of Government Relations responded to this comment noting that the $10 fee for each TV is for the cable boxes.  Boxes are necessary since programs have been digitized.  Mr. Cohen noted that Senior Citizen discounts are available for eligible subscribers who ask for it.

 

SERVICE PROVIDER REPORTS:

Tom Cohan: Director of Government Relations passed out a “News update” from Charter and spoke specifically about Charter’s participation in Connecticut’s statewide Emergency Preparedness Exercise.  This exercise used the Hurricane of 1938 as its scenario for the exercise. 

 

Connecticut Rate Sheets are now available on the Charter website.

 

Heidi Vandenbrouch: Director of Public Relations noted that as of July 19th there are an additional 40 HD channels for a total of 100 HD channels

 

Greg Van Antwerp: Director of Communications Access handed out the Newsletter for September/October 2012.  This newsletter is sent out by mail or e-mail upon request.

 

CTV-21 was nominated for a Beacon Award for “Charter goes to college”. 

 

Charter provides a college class for students at Western Connecticut State University.

 

There will be a demonstration at the Newtown Arts Festival.  There will be a mobile arts studio where students can shoot and edit videos of the festival.  There will also be a class with still photography.  Participants are asked to preregister for this event.  

 

The studio will have an Open House on Thursday, September 20th from 12:00 pm to 8:00pm in Newtown to see the new LED studio lighting system.

 

Charter is working on a collaboration with Region 12 schools and Shepaug Valley High School and will hope to have an after-school program with students.  Any other high schools interested in this program shall contact Greg Van Antwerp.

 

Orientation for the Internship will be on October 4th.  Applications are being accepted now.

 

Jim Lang asked if the newsletters can be sent electronically to the recording secretary for distribution to the council.

 

Greg Van Antwerp was interviewed on WPKN and an excerpt is available on facebook.

 

TREASURER’S REPORT:

Treasurer Carl Braun read the following Treasurer’s report.  The checking account balance is $4,333.07, the money market account balance is $6,158.86 and the 12 month CD has a balance of $13,484.09 for a total of assets at $23,976.02.

 

Donna Cassidy made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s report as presented.  Ray Juskiewicz seconded the motion. 

Vote: All in favor

(Treasurer’s report attached to the minutes of this meeting)

 

COUNCIL CHAIRMAN REPORT:

Chairman Gregory Davis noted that he looked in the membership roster for all 19 towns served by the council and noted that it was necessary to confirm appointments to the council.  The number of seats per town is dependent on population of the towns.  Gregory Davis did an outreach program to First Selectmen of the towns to let them know if seats were available.  Each town has another seat available if they have a public school system and one if they have a public library. 

 

 

 

Prime Directive

Chairman Gregory Davis read a letter that he would like to send to PURA (Public Utilities Regulatory Authority) outlining the Prime Directive and function of the Advisory Council.  The council would like PURA to confirm the accuracy and completeness of the mission of the council. 

 

Jim Lang made a motion to authorize the chairman to send a letter outlining the Prime Directive as presented.  George Linkletter seconded the motion.

Vote: All in favor

(Letter to PURA attached to the minutes of this meeting)

 

Annual Report Filings

Gregory Davis noted that he looked up the PURA website and there no annual reports for the council.  As a result, he went back to the minutes from past meetings and would like to resubmit two years of reports to PURA for submission on their website.  These reports include names of members, dates of meetings and the treasury reports.

 

Donna Cassidy made a motion to submit the annual reports from the council’s past two years to PURA for submission on their website.  Jim Lang seconded the motion.

Vote: All in favor

(Annual reports attached to the minutes of this meeting)

 

Strategic Action Committee

Gregory Davis noted that he would like to appoint a Strategic Action Committee that would meet to decide on goals and strategies for the council.  Members will discuss the history of the council and current challenges.  The committee will specifically discuss the next four meetings.  The following members volunteered to serve on the committee: Donna Cassidy, Paul Katzmark, Ken Swain, Ken Cornet, Jim Lang and Carmella Amodeo.  Chairman Gregory Davis will serve on this committee as well.

 

SVAC report

Gregory Davis gave a report about the most recent meeting of the Statewide Video Advisory Council.  There were no motions or actions at the last meeting.  The chairman of the Statewide Video Advisory Council is still deciding about running again. 

 

The final decision in the investigation regarding Community Access programming and operations that was done by PURA last August indicated that they are going to perform a full investigation of two community access providers every year.  The first two reviews will be Skye Television of Waterbury and Cox Cable Television of Enfield.

 

OLD BUSINESS:

Gregory Davis spoke of discussion at previous meetings regarding having the name of the Cable Advisory Council and also the name of the Council Chairman on bills.  He noted that there was legislation that any company issued a certificate of cable franchise authority shall, every six months, provide on bills, bill inserts or letters to subscribers, a notice indicating the name and address of the chairperson of the advisory council and describing the responsibilities of such advisory council.  There was a discussion on whether or not it was appropriate to send this letter to PURA.

 

Stephanie O’Rourke made a motion to request PURA to review the language for cable billing insert notification.  Donna Cassidy seconded the motion.

 

Jim Lang made a motion to amend the previous motion to state that the council requests that Charter provide to the council by the November 2012 meeting a review of the cable notification text in compliance with Connecticut General Statutes.  Ray Juskiewicz seconded the motion.  Vote: All in favor

 

Access & Educational Channel interconnection with ATT U-Verse

Gregory Davis noted that ATT U-Verse is now carrying most of the educational channels.  Chairman Davis spoke of a proposed letter to request a report in writing from Charter Communications to describe any obstacles that would prevent interconnection of the designated Community Access Channel with ATT U-Verse and to request that PURA consider further action to facilitate interconnection of the channel between Charter and ATT U-Verse.  It was noted that ATT U-Verse should be carrying the Community Access Channel for all the towns in the Western Region cable map 19.  There was a discussion of a draft letter written by Chairman Davis and revisions were made.

 

Jim Lang made a motion to authorize a letter to be sent to PURA regarding Access Interconnection as revised by the chairman.  George Linkletter seconded the motion.

Vote: All in favor

(Letter to PURA attached to the minutes of this meeting)

 

NEW BUSINESS:  

Mileage reimbursement

Chairman Gregory Davis read a draft letter to ask PURA to confirm if the council can reimburse members for mileage and travel expenses for coming to council meetings.  Such letter suggested that the reimbursement rate should be the official 2012 IRS rate of 55 cents a mile. 

 

Treasurer Carl Braun noted that he called the IRS regarding this and got clarification that volunteers to the council should be reimbursed at the charity rate at 14 cents a mile.  Members of the council suggested that they get an opinion from a Connecticut tax accountant regarding this. 

 

Vice Chairman Carmella Amodeo spoke of the budget of the Advisory Council and expressed concerns that there may not be enough funds for this expense. 

 

George Linkletter made a motion to authorize the chairman to send the proposed letter to PURA as amended by the council asking for confirmation of authority to reimburse and at what rate.  Paul Katzmark seconded the motion.

Vote: All in favor (except Jim Lang and Donna Cassidy abstained)

(Letter to PURA attached to the minutes of this meeting)

Government Channel Requirement

Jim Lang made a motion on behalf of the Town of Trumbull to have the Advisory Council request that PURA require Charter Communications to provide a government access channel to any municipality in its franchise area that requests one.  This channel would be offered in a similar fashion to the Education Channel now offered by Charter Communications.  Towns could accept now or in the future.  Ray Juskiewicz seconded the motion.

 

Donna Cassidy made a motion to delete the part of the motion that reads “on behalf of the Town of Trumbull”.  Jim Lang seconded the motion.

 

There was a discussion of the feasibility of asking PURA to do this and the language of this motion.  It was decided to withdraw the previous motion and bring this before the Strategic Action Committee for review and to have the chairman rewrite the language for the motion by the November meeting.

 

Jim Lang made a motion to have the chairman rewrite the language in the proposal regarding the Government channels.  Donna Cassidy seconded the motion.

Vote: All in favor

 

OPEN FORUM

George Fletcher spoke of a book written by former member Joe Hurley.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Jim Lang made a motion to approve the minutes of the July 10, 2012 meeting as presented.  George Linkletter seconded the motion. 

Vote: All in favor

 

ADJOURNMENT:

Ray Juskiewicz made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:05pm.  Donna Cassidy seconded the motion.

Vote:  All in favor