Cable Advisory Council
of Charter Communications

   
PO Box 87
Newtown, CT 06470
 
     
August 8, 2000 Minutes
 
     
 
Charter Communications
Cable Advisory Council
P. O. Box 87
Newtown, Connecticut

MINUTES

Public Regular Meeting - Tuesday, August 8, 2000
New Milford Public Library - New Milford


There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:35 p.m. August 8, 2000 by Chairperson, Carl DeVoe at New Milford Public Library in New Milford, Connecticut.

ATTENDEES:
Fred Standt, Treasurer, Richard Levy, John Danscuk, Alex Forbes, Jill Zaloski, Eileen Sundstrom, Jay Lewin, Eugene Rosen, Camella Amodeo, John Houlihan, Ken Cornet, Joseph Mustich, Barb Perkinson, Carl DeVoe, Chairperson. For Charter: Janice Vance, John Dee, James Diaz, Greg Van Antwerp.

PUBLIC INPUT:
Tim McCulloch and Cathy Itri, of New Milford, formerly director and producer, respectively, of "News and Views", felt that Charter continued to be non-compliant with its franchise agreement, by not having a fully equipped New Milford studio (equal to that of Newtown) and by not having a full-time public access coordinator in New Milford as it has in Newtown. They expressed the opinion that the New Milford studio is not staffed or equipped to accommodate access to the studio, and they feel that they cannot produce their show within the guidelines established by Charter. Ms. Itri read a statement, a copy of which she provided to the Council and requested that a copy of this statement be forwarded to the DPUC. In this statement Mr. McCulloch and Ms. Itri discuss the various issues they are deeming place Charter in non-compliance. These issues include lack of appropriate personnel, lack of appropriate equipment, the absence of equal time as it relates to running tag lines on stations for various public access programs. They allege that Charter is pushing their "community " program (Homefront) but is not doing the same for other access users' programs.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
MOTION: To approve the minutes of the June 13, 2000 meeting was made by Jay Lewin and seconded by Ken Cornet. Motion carried with the following vote: YES: 10; ABSTAIN: 4 (John Danscuk, Barbara Perkinson, Camella Amodeo, Alex Forbes.


TREASURER'S REPORT:
Fred Standt issued the Treasurer's Report
Opening balance of the checking Account was . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186.00
Closing balance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153.00

Opening Balance on the Money Market Account (6/13/00). . . . . . . . . . . . . $15,947.22
Closing Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16,010.39

MOTION: To accept the Treasurer's Report was made by Jay Lewin, seconded by Rick Levy, and carried unanimously.

COMMUNICATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
The Chairman distributed a letter from Ms. Itri and Mr. McCulloch to Mr. John Dee, dated July 25, 2000, which was written following their interim meeting of July 13, to discuss the issues as they were presented at the June 13, 2000 meeting. Also distributed was a letter from Sherman Selectman's office, reappointing Tom Joyner to the Cable Advisory Council, and the CATV Report for the Month of June from Charter Communications.

MOTION: To amend the agenda to include discussion of the community needs assessment from the DPUC was made by Jay Lewin, seconded by Rick Levy and carried unanimously.

OLD BUSINESS:

Scheduling: MOTION: To bring back the scheduling discussion from the table made by Jay Lewin, seconded by Jill Zaloski and carried unanimously.

Scheduling was tabled from the June 13, 2000 meeting. Packet of information was sent to everyone, which included letters from Ms. Itre and Jim Diaz concerning scheduling. Also sent was a copy of state statutes and DPUC guidelines concerning access and the role of the Advisory Council. Discussion began around the following points.
John Dee from Charter Communications read his response to Cathy Itre's letter. He felt that the company has tried to accommodate the News and Views program, but felt that total studio time needs to be limited in fairness to other producers.
Rick Levy questioned the DPUC regulations and felt this was beyond the scope of the Advisory Council's role.
Eileen Sundstrom asked a question of John Dee about producer usage requests.
Ken Cornet asked how many people produce shows in the New Milford studio. He questioned why Charter is not supporting the shows produced in New Milford and indicated he felt Charter Communications focused their time, personnel and advertising on the production of Homefront.
Jill Zoloski stated that the production of Homefront allows interns a great deal of experience in show production.
Carl DeVoe indicated we should refer to the purpose of the advisory council as stated in state statutes. He feels there is nothing in the access rules that addresses time restrictions on usage.
Paula Harper discussed the fact that the Council does not set procedures, but only makes recommendations for policies.
Jay Lewin felt Charter is doing more than required by the franchise agreement and indicated that he agreed with Rick Levy that there was no action the Council could take.
While there was much discussion about this situation, there was no motion taken by the council.

Ken Cornet's letter regarding bundling: Jay Lewin commented that he could not support the letter as written, but felt that Ken could send the letter as an individual expressing his own opinion. Rick Levy suggested limiting the letter to saying customers don't want bundling. One suggestion was to eliminate the first paragraph and make revisions to second and third paragraphs. Jay Lewin asked Ken Cornet if he would be willing to rework his letter to reflect these suggestions. Ken agreed to do so with input from Jay.

MOTION: To table this item was made by Jay Lewin, seconded by John Danscuk, and carried unanimously.

Investment of Council funds: Carl DeVoe discussed the investment of Council funds. John Danscuk indicated he had not done any research, and was waiting to see what Fred Standt had.
Fred Standt indicated that First Union offered a savings account at 6% with a short-term commitment. This month the money market fund only earned 2.4% interest. Fred indicated he would be glad to transfer to First Union with Council approval. John Danscuk indicated there are about three or four different banks offering good interest rates, stating that Summit Bank offers 6.25% interest on a minimum balance of $1,000 for 6 months. Fred Standt discussed the fact that in certain accounts funds would not be available without penalty. John Danscuk discussed the fact that resources are being wasted, and that a minimum amount should be kept in the checking account, with the balance earning money. Carl DeVoe asked if there was a specific recommendation, and John Danscuk indicated that there was not right now. Jay Lewin recommended taking some portion of the funds and putting it into a CD. Eileen Sundstrom questioned whether there was any upcoming program, within the next 6 months, that would require a large expenditure.

MOTION: To let the treasurer invest an amount not to exceed $14,000 in a CD or other account earning a high rate of interest made by Rick Levy, seconded by John Danscuk, and carried unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS:
Based on the earlier motion, the council discussed a letter from the DPUC regarding franchise renewal cable needs analysis. Rick Levy stated that, re the DPUC letter, it was a little late to respond properly, but perhaps the consultant could meet with the Council. John Dee thinks that they would meet with us as part of the process. He stated that it is not a situation where they won't take comments. The process takes a long time. Carl DeVoe opened a discussion about the needs assessment on an item-by-item basis. Eileen Sundstrom and Jay Lewin concluded that bundling should be included in Item No. 3. Rick Levy suggested Item No. 3 be expanded. Ken Cornet raised the issue of high-speed internet access relative to Item No. 4. Rick Levy requested including information about community access and it was also suggested that we try to acquire information about the New Milford studio. Jay stated that he felt all they are asking for in the letter is to comment on the scope of what an independent consultant should be asked to do. We are not being asked to give responses to each of these items.
MOTION: To request a meeting with the consultant, and to request a delay in response time was made by Jay Lewin, seconded by Ken Cornet and carried unanimously.

Eileen Sundstrom and John Houlihan expressed concerns regarding telephone customer service response. John Dee indicated that there had been a problem, but it was resolved as of the previous Wednesday. He will monitor to ensure the problem has been resolved.

CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS REPORT:
Jim Diaz reported on community access and handed out information and reports. He supplied copies of Charter's report prepared for the DPUC each year.

Janice Vance invited Council members to attend an event at Pratt Center in New Milford on September 29 and 30, where there will be a bus promoting Animal Planet from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

John Dee discussed co-channel interference on some channels. He also indicated the negotiations with AT&T had fallen through and that Charter was going to remain in Connecticut.

ADJOURNMENT:
There being no other items to come before the Council, a motion to adjourn was made at 9:52 p.m. was made by Jay Lewin, seconded by John Danscuk and carried unanimously.

Respectfully submitted by: Lorna J. Szalay, Recording Secretary

NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, October 10, 2000, at Charter Communications - Newtown 7:30 p.m.

   
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