CABLE ADVISORY COUNCIL
Minutes of Public Regular Meeting –
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:04 p.m., Tuesday, September 9, 2014 by Chairman Gregory Davis at the Charter Communications facility, Newtown, Connecticut.
ATTENDEES: Chairman Gregory Davis (Roxbury), Carmella Amodeo (Newtown), Gerry Belanger (Newtown Alternate), Douglas Branson (Kent), George Fletcher (New Milford), Ray Juskiewicz (New Fairfield), Paul Katzmark (Southbury, arrived 7:30pm), Jim Lang (Trumbull), George Linkletter (Sherman), Joe Mustich (Washington), Stephanie O’Rourke (Kent) and Gene Rosen (Newtown)
From Charter: Greg Van Antwerp (Public Access) and Heidi Vandenbrouch (Public Relations)
Guests: Connecticut State Representative Arthur O’Neill (District 69) and Ruby O’Neill
ROLL CALL: Members of the council introduced themselves and Chairman Gregory Davis reviewed the packets for tonight’s meeting.
PUBLIC INPUT: None
SERVICE PROVIDER REPORTS:
Heidi Vandenbrouch announced that Tom Cohan is out of town and unable to attend this meeting.
Heidi Vandenbrouch- (Public Relations) reported on the following:
· Fairfield County will be going to all digital tomorrow, September 10th.
· Litchfield County will be going to all digital on September 16th.
· Charter Spectrum will be launched sometime in October. This will give greater internet speed and will have over 200 HD channels.
· Charter will be open additional hours until September 16th to help with the transition. Customers that make an attempt to connect and are unable can have a technician come to their house to connect at no charge.
Greg Van Antwerp- (Public Access) spoke of the following:
· Charter is interconnected with AT&T as of today.
· CT21 is moving to Channel 192- The motto is CTV 21=19+2
· Channel 17 is now Channel 194
· Charter will be at the Newtown Arts Festival is this weekend.
· Charter will work with students at West Conn to provide life election results.
· Greg Van Antwerp met with 25 students from West Conn Weather Center.
July Cable Advisory Meeting Minutes and August Strategic Action Committee Meeting
Jim Lang made a motion to accept the minutes from the July 8, 2014 Cable Advisory meeting and the August 12, 2014 Strategic Action Committee meeting as presented. Joe Mustich seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor
Region 12 AV Studio Funded by PEGPETIA
Joe Mustich spoke of a new video production studio built at Shepaug High School with a grant received from PURA. Chairman Davis spoke of this grant known as the PEGPETIA grant and noted that this is one of the last projects to be done with PEGPETIA funds before PEGPETIA funds were diverted to the general fund.
Mr. Davis spoke of a motion made at the November 12, 2013 CAC meeting regarding sending a letter to the Council Representatives asking for them to take action to restore funds created under the CGS16-331 for Public, Educational, Government Programming Equipment Technology Investment Account and give cable television customers what they paid for. The CAC decided to send a letter with the following motion:
George Linkletter made a motion that the Cable Advisory Council hereby resolves to support a legislative Initiative to restore the funds diverted from the Public-Educational-Governmental-Programming & Educational Technology Investment Account. Joe Mustich seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor
A list of Area 19 contacts is available in tonight’s meeting packet and also on the Cable Advisory Council website.
Chairman Gregory Davis noted that the Analog sunset is happening. A decoder box is now necessary for all TV’s. Letters were received from residents of both Sherman and Southbury that were upset about this conversion. These residents noted that they were happy with their service as it was and did not want to have to pay for the extra boxes.
Chairman Gregory Davis suggested that a letter be sent to Tom Cohan of Charter requesting that Charter include the first converter box at the basic cable rate.
Joe Mustich made a motion to send a letter to Tom Cohan on behalf of the Cable Advisory Council asking that Charter include the first converter box in the basic cable rate and to ask Charter to improve the Charter Announcement that greets each viewer upon converter box power up. Paul Katzmark seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor except Ray Juskiewicz and Jim Lang)
Basic Service Tier from the Emergency Operations Centers
Gregory Davis spoke of a letter sent on August 1st by him to PURA to investigate Charter’s plan to disconnect the Basic Service Tier from the Emergency Operations Center for town halls effective in September 2014. It was noted that the charge for this is approximately $70/month.
There was a discussion of whether or not this letter should have been sent from the chairman on Cable Advisory Council letterhead. It was suggested that Chairman Davis in the future may want to send similar letters not on letterhead but to instead include his title in the body of the letter and sign as an individual.
Joe Mustich made a motion to support a letter sent to PURA stating that: The Cable Advisory Council supports the town of Roxbury’s request for a PURA investigation to rule that the Basic Service Tier is an essential Public Service to be provided free of charge to the designated Emergency Operations Center and Senior Centers of all the Area 19 towns. Stephanie O’Rourke seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor
COUNCIL CHAIRMAN REPORT
Chairman Davis spoke of two quotes for news headlines regarding cable:
“Absent either denial of the transaction or imposition of conditions, the communications ecosystem could forever and dramatically change to the detriment of consumers and competition alike”- Sinclair Broadcasting’s comments, filed with the FCC, on the Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger.
Conversely, Comcast’s reaction was:
“It is important to remember that for every programmer that wants more money for carriage or expanded carriage, this imposes real costs on consumers and limits the opportunities for other cable networks to gain access to our systems. Our programming costs have increased by over 130% over the past 10 years while our consumer pricing has increased at about half that rate. We’ve had success in negotiating programming deals in the marketplace and believe that’s the right place for buyers and sellers to make deals without government intervention.”
Gregory Davis gave a brief overview of other cable headlines and trends including Netflix, “cord nevers” and Over the Top providers and how they will affect community access. Chairman Davis spoke of the need for legislative action to keep funding for community access television.
Gregory Davis spoke of a summary of a presentation that he was prepared to present to the Statewide Video Advisory Council but their meeting was cancelled. The next meeting of the SVAC will be held on October 8th and it is hopeful that SVAC members will bring their representatives to this meeting and give support for the legislative initiative in Connecticut.
Chairman Davis spoke of a letter sent to Connecticut State Representative Arthur O’Neill and to Ruby O’Neill asking for their advice and guidance. State Representative O’Neill spoke of the best ways to get others involved and the practical language of the legislation that will keep funding alive. It was noted that the cover letter of the legislation should have language that is not too technical and should include reasons to support public access. It was further noted that it is important that everyone on the council is on board in order to garner support. Members of the council asked questions of State Representative O’Neill regarding this process.
George Fletcher made a motion that the Cable Advisory Council hereby resolve to support a 2015 Connecticut legislative initiative to preserve the funding for the Connecticut Institution of Community Access Television. Carmella Amodeo seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor except George Linkletter)
The council thanked State Representative O’Neill and Ruby O’Neill for attending tonight’s meeting.
COUNCIL TREASURY REPORT
Treasurer Paul Katzmark noted that the balance in the checking account is currently $1,257.60 which includes expenditures for tonight’s meeting.
Ray Juskiewicz made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report as presented. Gerry Belanger seconded the motion. Vote: All in favor
Paul Katzmark asked about the cost of Basic Cable and a problem with Charter at Heritage Village. It was decided that Mr. Katzmark will call Tom Cohan regarding this situation.
Mr. Katzmark also asked about the possibility of broadcasting Board of Selectmen meetings in Southbury. Greg Van Antwerp offered to help with this.
Ray Juskiewicz made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 8:43pm. George Linkletter seconded the motion.
Vote: All in favor