Cable Advisory Council
of Charter Communications

   
PO Box 87
Newtown, CT 06470
 
     
December 12, 2000 Minutes
 
         
 
Cable Advisory Council
P. O. Box 87
Newtown, Connecticut

MINUTES

Public Regular Meeting - Tuesday, December 12, 2000
Charter Communications - Brookfield


There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:32 p.m. December 12, 2000 by Chairperson, Carl DeVoe at Brookfield Town Hall, Brookfield, Connecticut.

ATTENDEES:
William Stratton, Fred Standt, Treasurer, Rick Levy, John Danscuk, Jay Lewin, Paula Hopper, Eugene Rosen, Camella Amodeo, Judith Eslami, Tom Joyner, Ken Cornet, Joseph Mustich, Carl DeVoe, Chairperson. For Charter: Janice Vance, John Dee.

John Dee informed everyone that James Diaz passed away on December 11. A moment of silence was observed. A motion for the Council to send something to James' family was made by J. Lewin, seconded by W. Stratton, and carried unanimously.

PUBLIC INPUT:
No public present.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
A motion to accept the Minutes of the October 10 meeting as submitted was made by J. Danscuk, seconded by F. Standt and carried unanimously.

P. Hopper asked that the Minutes from the August 8 meeting be amended to show that she was in attendance.

TREASURER'S REPORT:
Fred Standt issued the Treasurer's Report
Opening balance of the checking Account (9/11). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$ 153.00
Deposit 10/12/00. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300.00
10/10/00 Check 151 Newtown Sec. Svc. (Aug. Mtg.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222.77
10/10/00 Check 152 Carl DeVoe (stamps). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33.00
10/10/00 Check 153 Carl DeVoe (bal.). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.98
Closing balance 12/12/00. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 195.25
Opening Balance on the Money Market Account (9/11/00). . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 6,073.28
Interest (9/30/00). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.10
Deposit (10/3/00). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,000.00
Deposit (10/11/00). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,000.00
Withdrawal (10/12/00). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300.00
Interest (10/30/00) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.81
Closing Balance (12/12/00) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 9,802.19
1 yr. plus CD @ $10,000.00 + int. cred. 8/31/00 $5.18 = $10,005.18
1 yr. Plus CD @ $10,005.00 + int. cred. to 11/31/00 = $10,111.08

MOTION to accept as submitted was made by J. Lewin, seconded by J. Danscuk and carried unanimously.

COMMUNICATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
C. DeVoe reviewed correspondence received. He indicated there were ongoing discussions in DPUC regarding use of community access facilities, basically regarding soliciting funds for non-profit organizations. The OCC feels that they do not believe it is necessary at this point to amend the existing statutes or regulations to address this issue. It will be made available to any council members who would like to read it. He also indicated several letters had been received from the lawyers representing Charter regarding the October and November rebuild updates, the franchising renewal, and the company is asking for motions or protective orders for certain issues. C. DeVoe asked for a timetable on how Charter is proceeding with their refranchising with the DPUC. J. Vance indicated that she had contacted their attorney and the DPUC does not yet have a schedule. They will be retaining a consultant to do a needs assessment sometime in 2001. That consultant will be contacting the council to review any issues prior to issuing a final report. Hearings will likely be scheduled in 2002. The franchise expires the end of the year 2002. J. Dee added that they have asked for the ability to finish the rebuilds and some additional things coming up, so that they are judged on what they've done and are prepared to do, and have been granted the ability to do that. K. Cornet asked when someone would be coming from the DPUC to meet with the Commission. J. Dee indicated that person has not been hired yet. J. Vance reviewed changes made due to requirements to comply with a "must carry" order. (Discussed fully when Charter provided their report later in the meeting.)

C. DeVoe indicated a letter had been received from the Town of Bethlehem Selectman, appointing W. Stratton to the Council.

C. DeVoe indicated he had received notice from E. Sundstrom and J. Zaloski that they would not be able to attend the meeting.

A letter was received from Annette Priscilio of Trumbull regarding an installation problem. J. Dee explained that they were unaware of the need to "fish" the line prior to arrival, and stated that, although there was existing cable present, it was configured in a way that posed a safety problem and therefore they could not use that for installation. Since there appears to be a misunderstanding in this circumstance, Charter will probably assume the cost of having the line fished.

A letter was received from Don Meyer of Trumbull, regarding the relocation of Weather Channel from 23 to 37 and charging this was to eliminate it from basic line-up, requiring subscribers to pay more if they wanted expanded basic. J. Dee acknowledged this, but added that due to technical issues it was accessible to basic subscribers, but not part of their service. Subscribers to basic were never paying for it as part of the basic service.

J. Lewin suggested all letters received by the Council should be acknowledged by C. DeVoe, indicating the matter had been discussed with Charter. J. Dee indicated he, by policy, responds to customers' letters directly. J. Danscuk stated that he has, in the past, called the customer and indicated their concern was discussed with Charter. It was agreed that the Council would also acknowledge, by letter or by phone call, receipt of the letter.

P. Hopper introduced a letter she received from Cindy Curtis Simon, Newtown Office of the Town Clerk, regarding the 2001 schedule of meetings, which stated that, in accordance with Connecticut General Statute 1225, the Chairman or Secretary of any public agency of any political subdivision of the State, is to provide no later than January 31 of each year the clerk of such subdivision the schedule of regular meetings of such pubic agency for the ensuing year. C. DeVoe indicated the December Minutes will reflect the schedule for 2001. Ken Cornet indicated that we should consider rescheduling meetings to alternate months.

T. Joyner submitted a letter that he was provided from SNET Americast, which is a copy of their letter to customers regarding cancellation of service.

CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS REPORT:
J. Vance discussed changes affecting the channel line-up and pricing. J. Vance discussed the rebuild schedule, indicating they are almost finished with Sherman. J. Dee indicated all towns would be spliced by the end of the year. The next step is to go through and make sure everything looks like it should and all technology works well. He indicated that, before the end of the January, Washington, Roxbury and Bethlehem will be released. Bridgewater, Warren and Kent will be done by the end of February. Heritage Village upgrade is in the process and will be done by the end of July.

J. Vance discussed increasing the speed of Charter Pipeline from 256k to 512k on February 5, 2001. There will be no change is cost. Modem rental is $10 per month.

K. Cornet indicated he has received a lot of negative comments about TBN and numerous requests for The Weather Channel to be returned to basic. J. Dee stated there is no way The Weather Channel will be returned to the basic line-up, indicating that it's a competitive edge against Direct TV. J. Vance indicated that the cost of The Weather Channel would have a significant impact on the basic rate. K. Cornet asked why TBN is included in the line-up, and J. Vance responded that people asked for it. K. Cornet suggested another questionnaire be sent out. J. Vance indicated she personally took the phone calls when TBN was dropped back to part time a couple of years ago, and indicated there is a large viewing audience.

T. Joyner expressed concern over channels abusing the "must-carry" law. J. Vance indicated federal law requires their compliance. T. Joyner questioned whether some of the programming might violate some provisions of the State's Hate Crimes Bill and would be a reason not to carry them. J. Dee indicated that if they do not carry them, Charter would be breaking the law.
W. Stratton commented that if people are concerned they should communicate with the legislature and congress to get it changed.

K. Cornet suggested writing a letter or a news-worthy story, indicating that The Weather Channel should be part of the basic line-up as a public service, and asked that it be lobbied for by the public. J. Dee indicated that if that's the case, customers need to also be informed that it will increase the basic rates by $2 to $3 and will take away a competitive edge. J. Dee indicated it is not the function of the council to lobby the public to hurt the business. K. Cornet countered that he felt we could lobby the public as we are here representing the public. P. Hopper indicated that she felt it would be inappropriate to organize people to complain about an issue. W. Stratton indicated that, since The Weather Channel is subsidized by a commercial endeavor it is not a public service. J. Dee indicated it is not a consideration as no other cable company in the U.S. is doing it. He reiterated it would be detrimental to Charter to put The Weather Channel in the basic line-up. C. DeVoe stated it is not the Council's position to lobby for a position that is untenable.

OLD BUSINESS:
The issue of the van use policy was discussed, and J. Dee indicated that Greg VanAntwerp had prepared it but, due to the untimely death of James Diaz, and the fact that he and Greg worked closely on this issue, it was agreed that this would be discussed at the next meeting. J. Dee confirmed that the van would not be used for anything other than public access. C. DeVoe indicated the need for a plan of communication to the towns, informing them of the van, its purpose and the policy for van use. He also discussed the possibility of live broadcasts. He further indicated the need to determine what kind of programming we want to see, what kind of things do we want taped, and Charter's responsibility will be to work out the semantics. He further reiterated the Willimantic procedure will be used to establish a procedure for this van. C. DeVoe asked that Charter mail a copy of the draft policy to Council members prior to the next meeting. He also suggested that Council members contact their mayors or selectmen and discuss the van and see if they have any ideas for what they would like to see it used for.

P. Hopper questioned how long it had been since the van was available, and J. Dee indicated it had arrived and was ready for use for the last month, but had not yet been used.

T. Joyner indicated he agrees somewhat with K. Cornet's position on The Weather Channel. He acknowledged that Charter's competition has changed over the years, but stated that Charter is a regulated monopoly. J. Dee stated that the scope of the Council's abilities does not include programming or pricing. T. Joyner acknowledged this, but indicated that as an advisory board there is a responsibility to convey the constituent's points of view, indicating he has heard numerous complaints about the cost of cable. J. Dee stated that he is not opposed to hearing customer's complaints, but he is opposed to having a council member lobby the public to try to change his policies. J. Lewin reiterated the Council's obligation is to the community and to relay information relating to matters discussed at the meetings. J. Dee again acknowledged this fact, but again stated there are certain areas that are outside the scope of responsibility of this council, and that while he does not want customers to be unhappy, there are areas that are not subject to change. P. Hopper stated we are here to make suggestions -- not to go out and get people upset.
G. Rosen stated that if we bring data here, it needs to be hard -- not just words. R. Levy reiterated the Council has no responsibility to direct programming or rates. J. Dee stated there are certain things that he can do and certain things the board can do and asked that it not get weighed down with issues outside the realm of their responsibility.

NEW BUSINESS:
Meetings for next year, based on current schedule, would be held in February, April, June, August, October and December. R. Levy made a motion to adjust the schedule to alternate months, scheduling the January meeting the last Tuesday of January, and the second meeting would be the second Tuesday of March, with subsequent meetings being the second Tuesday of the month, in May, July, September and November. J. Lewin seconded the motion and it was carried unanimously. All meetings are at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted. The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, January 30, 2001 - New Milford Public Library
Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - Brookfield Town Hall
Tuesday, May 8, 2001 - Charter Communications, Newtown
Tuesday, July 10, 2001 - New Milford Public Library
Tuesday, September 11, 2001 - Brookfield Town Hall
Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - Charter Communications, Newtown

W. Stratton asked for suggestions on gaining public input on cable issues.

ADJOURNMENT:
A motion to adjourn was made by J. Lewin, seconded by R. Levy and carried unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by: Lorna J. Szalay, Recording Secretary

NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, January 30, 2001, at New Milford Public Library, 7:30 p.m.

   
             
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