PO Box 87
Newtown, CT 06470
March 9, 2004 Minutes
CABLE ADVISORY COUNCIL
P. O. Box 87
Regular Meeting – Tuesday, March 9, 2004
There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:35 p.m., Tuesday, March 9, 2004 by Vice-Chairperson Carmella Amodeo at the Charter Communications facility, Newtown, Connecticut. (John Sabo resigned as Chairperson.)
Vice-Chairperson Carmella Amodeo, former Chairperson John Sabo (Southbury), William Fredrickson (Southbury), John Bell (Kent), Eugene Rosen (Newtown), Rachel Goodkind (New Milford), Kate Donahue (Trumbull), Jeffrey Hackett (Trumbull), Carl DeVoe (New Milford), Thomas Amatruda (Woodbury), Dina Walker (Winchester ~ via tele-conferencing).
For Charter: John Dee, Dick Elwell and Greg Van Antwerp.
No public present.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
K. Donahue made note that Jeffrey Hackett’s name was inadvertently left off the list of the individuals who volunteered to serve on the Grants Sub-Committee for the James Diaz festival.
A motion was made by W. Fredrickson to accept the Minutes of the March 9, 2004 meeting as corrected, the motion was seconded by K. Donahue. There being no discussion, a vote was taken and the Minutes of the March 9, 2004 meeting were approved. The motion carried. One abstention was made by C. DeVoe.
J. Zaloski, Treasurer, was not in attendance but forwarded on her report to the council (January 2004—March 2004).
R. Goodkind pointed out the following correction: Correction in placement of total funds available and total assets. Previous reports only had funds available not including the CD.
Opening balance of the checking account. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . $ 937.32
Opening Balance on the Money Market Account . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . $16,418.13
TOTAL FUNDS AVAILABLE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $16,898.15
1 yr. plus CD @ $10,000 (Renewed ~ 8/27/03 /New Maturity Date 8/27/04)
TOTAL ASSETS: $28,180.55
A motion was made by E. Rosen to accept the treasurer’s report as submitted. The motion was seconded by W. Fredrickson and carried unanimously.
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS REPORT:
J. Dee, General Manager, advised the Council that a couple of HD channels have been launched (ESPN & WBIT). At the beginning of the year, a new service was launched (Charter DVR—Charter Digital Video Recorder) which is similar to TIVO. However, with Charter DVR, you can tape one program while simultaneously watching another program, you can pause live TV and approximately 50 hours of programming can be stored on a hard drive. In the future, another version will be launched (DVR for high definition TV) so an individual has the ability to record high definition programming and play it back. Approximately 10 channels of HD service should be available by the end of the summer. A recent rate increase was implemented which only affected approximately 30% of consumers in the Newtown area and approximately 35% of consumers in the Winsted area. Those consumers with digital boxes did not see an increase. Consumers are being shifted into various packages and will have altered charges for cable service. If a consumer subscribes to HBO, a new service which has been launched is Subscription Video (or Video on Demand) whereby the consumers have the ability to access any of the movies being aired in a given month at any point of the month. Currently, most of the high-speed data consumers are utilizing a 2-meg download capability with a 128-upload capability. Within a month, that service should increase to a 3-meg download capability with a 256-upload capability. C. DeVoe questioned the switching of channels for CPTV from Channel 12. D. Elwell explained that CPTV was moved from Channel 12 to Channel 23 as there were a lot of contractual issues with certain channels and a repositioning took place. CPTV was one network that was amenable to being moved. J. Dee pointed out that the shopping channel generates more revenue which in turn benefits the consumers because it is less money the consumers will have to pay. K. Donahue asked what kind of response the rate increase generated. J. Dee said this was the easiest year he has experienced with a rate increase. He received approximately two calls as a result of the increase. C. DeVoe pointed out an ongoing technical problem. When Board of Education meetings are broadcast, consumers with digital cable will lose the signal. He felt the problem had to do with the signal as digital is more sensitive and when he switches cameras, the signal is lost. J. Dee did not feel it was camera related but rather modular related. C. DeVoe said that the Board’s concern is whether there is something they would need to purchase to rectify the situation or if the issue is transmission. J. Dee said he would look into the matter.
J. Hackett pointed out that Danbury’s weather information was aired in Trumbull. The desire would be to have weather information from either Bridgeport or New Haven. G. Van Antwerp has looked into the matter and asked if there was potential for a weather station broadcast connected to Channel 17. J. Hackett felt it was possible. G. Van Antwerp advised the Council that Charter’s website contains a satellite map. K. Donahue expressed concern with not being able to turn on the weather channel and receive information relative to Trumbull. J. Dee pointed out that he has worked with the weather channel in the past and pointed out the expense of the equipment. Danbury is centralized to the franchise. G. Rosen was surprised to learn that Trumbull residents would prefer weather information from Bridgeport as the information would be considerably different than that which they receive from Danbury. K. Donahue asked what the preferred way to receive complaints/suggestions would be. J. Dee said email (charter.com) as the information is routed directly to his office.
G. Van Antwerp distributed the most recent Community Vision 21 Newsletter and public access report (January 1, 2004—March 6, 2004).
R. Goodkind asked if the Council’s meetings could be aired on a more regular basis. G. Van Antwerp pointed out the difficulty in finding a spot for airing the Council meetings is due to the length of the meetings. J. Sabo urged the Council not to discontinue videotaping the meetings. He asked Charter’s assistance in providing the equipment necessary to videotape the meetings. J. Bell pointed out that an intern could do the shoot and the editing. G. Van Antwerp suggested extending the offer to high school students who could be trained. He pointed out that the interns are encouraged to participate and be creative but Charter will not direct the interns to videotape an event. He said the offer would be extended to the interns but could not promise someone would show up at the meetings.
J. Sabo pointed out a potential problem if the entrance to the building is locked—should the public make the attempt to come to a meeting and find the door is locked, they may not return to a future meeting. C. Amodeo asked if a Council member would be permitted to stay at the front entrance and let people into the building. While there was no opposition to her suggestion, J. Dee pointed out that Charter has provided the Council with a meeting place but questioned how many resources should be made available to accommodate the meeting.
COMMUNICATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
C. Amodeo reviewed the correspondence received at the Council’s PO Box and then submitted same to the Recording Secretary for logging. C. Amodeo read one letter in particular which was received by the Southeastern Cable Advisory Council. The Southeastern Cable Advisory Council forwarded the Charter Communications Cable Advisory Council a letter that was directed to State Senators and Representatives: We urge and encourage your cable committee to draft and forward a similar letter of concern if the issue of cost containment is relative to your cable subscribers. C. Amodeo opened up the floor for discussion on this matter. C. DeVoe pointed out that in Connecticut, the DPUC only controls the rates for basic cable and only allow increases based on what a cable company can prove are the expenses they are incurring. J. Sabo did not feel the Council as a body could write such a letter. He suggested possibly creating a sub-committee to research how many people are upset to the point that a committee needed to be formed to go after the DPUC or State or National Legislators. He did not feel the Council had adequate representation to take on such an issue. J. Bell felt that basic cable was appropriately priced. Additional options are additional. He did not support the Council writing a letter. E. Rosen agreed that it is a consumer’s choice what options they choose with their cable service. He did not support the Council writing a letter nor did he feel a sub-committee needed to be formed. J. Dee pointed out that when networks such as ESPN raise their rates, they hide behind Charter. ESPN does not receive the complaints, Charter does. J. Sabo suggested moving a motion and taking a vote so that the issue is dealt with in a formal manner.
A motion was made by J. Sabo to write a letter as a Cable Advisory Council to the same bodies as did the Southeastern Cable Advisory Council regarding raising rates. The motion was seconded by J. Bell. After conducting a brief discussion on the reason for the motion, a vote was taken, and the motion was unanimously opposed and failed.
Nominations for Office of Membership Chairperson & Correspondence Secretary:
C. Amodeo questioned when the vote for Council officers needed to take place. C. DeVoe explained that at the July meeting, nominations would take place for officers. At the following meeting, votes would take place. J. Bell pointed out that each of the Council members’ terms end on June 30th, each town would need to re-appoint the individuals. At the July meeting the nominations for officers would take place.
C. Amodeo pointed out the two vacancies and K. Donahue questioned their functions as the positions were not listed in the By-Laws. C. Amodeo explained that the Council discussed having an individual respond to the correspondence received. Another suggestion was to have each town’s representative respond to correspondence. It was felt and agreed that the consumers needed to be reassured that their letters were being read and their concerns were being addressed. C. DeVoe explained that when the Council was formed, the offices of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and Secretary/Treasurer were formed. When Fred Standt was a member, he agreed to serve as the Treasurer but not perform any of the secretarial functions. C. Amodeo pointed out that eventually a secretarial service was contracted to take care of the minutes. Another position was that of the Membership Chairperson to assist with the poor attendance from some towns as well as the lack of representation from some towns. The Membership Chairperson is to periodically remind Selectmen, Superintendents or the appointing bodies that they were missing representation on the Council. C. DeVoe pointed out that in the past it was the function of the Chairperson. J. Sabo pointed out that since that time, the position was created and now it either needs to be eliminated or filled. C. DeVoe pointed out that the position was not in the version of the By-Laws that appears on the website. C. Amodeo pointed out that the By-Laws are not accurately representing the officers that are being proposed. C. DeVoe did not feel that by electing to have a Membership Chairperson would increase attendance at meetings. J. Sabo disagreed noted that changes have occurred. Outreach attempts were made (i.e., letters were forwarded to First Selectmen, Superintendents, etc.). In addition, J. Sabo pointed out that it was an attempt to assist with the responsibilities placed on the Chairperson. C. DeVoe pointed out that if the Council’s desire was to change/amend the By-Laws, there was a procedure that needed to be followed. As the two positions—Membership Chairperson and Correspondence Secretary—do not exist in the By-Laws, C. Amodeo suggested not addressing nominations. Alternatively, she suggested reviewing and updating the By-Laws. J. Sabo stressed the importance of having more members involved with some of the responsibilities of the Chairperson. Of importance was attendance by the members and tracking those that have not attended meetings in quite some time. C. Amodeo suggested forming a sub-committee to review the By-Laws. C. Devoe felt that the position of Secretary would resolve a lot of the issues at hand. The Council has not had an active Secretary so the responsibilities fell to the Chairperson. He felt having a good Secretary/Treasurer was the answer. J. Sabo opposed to Jill Zaloski being asked to take on the responsibilities of Secretary in addition to being the Treasurer. He suggested another member assume the responsibilities of Secretary. C. Amodeo asked for volunteers to review the By-Laws. The following members volunteered: C. DeVoe, J. Bell, C. Amodeo. It was the consensus of the Council to postpone addressing the positions of Membership Chairperson and Correspondence Secretary until the By-Laws have been reviewed/revised. It was further the consensus of the Council that nominations for Officers would take place in July and the vote would take place in September. To address the issue of responding to correspondence, C. DeVoe offered the following motion: A motion was made by C. DeVoe that the Vice-Chairperson contract with the Secretarial Service to complete any correspondence that needs to be completed until a new slate of officers is elected. The motion was seconded by K. Donahue. A brief discussion ensued. K. Donahue offered to contact the Office of First Selectman for each town and obtain their name in an effort to prepare a mailing addressed directly to each First Selectman (and place follow up calls) concerning the vacancies and re-appointments for the Council. J. Bell handed K. Donahue a sample letter used in the past. There being no further discussion, a vote was taken and the motion carried unanimously.
The following update submited:
3-8 minutes length/VHS
Special category for Editing: “All entries will be judged and may qualify for an additional award recognizing outstanding editing.”
Judges: 4 (TBA), No Committee members, Charter employee, or teachers of student entries
Entry Fee: $10
Multiple entries may be submitted on separate VHS tapes. Entries will not have name of person submitting available on outside of tape. Credits should be at the end of the entry tape.
3 Awards for each age group:
Student: Ages 14-18
Adults: 19 & Up
Editing: Single award $300
** Entries may be submitted from residents within Charter’s viewing area including Newtown and Winsted areas.
** Advisory Board members should submit name and contact of their local papers to expedite getting article in this spring. School and town papers will be contacted.
Same individual can win an award in both video and editing categories.
Non-winning entries from previous year may be re-submitted.
Previous winners may not re-submit same entry but can submit new entry.
All entries will receive a certificate of participation.
Submission Date: September 15, 2004
Festival viewing at Charter Public Access studio. Entries should be aired on CommunityVision 21 after Festival.
Could videos be scheduled at local theatre for public viewing? (Edmond Town Hall or Bank St. Theatre)
Will Charter be contributing to the awards again this year?
J. Bell advised the Council that the media should be made aware of the Festival before the end of this school year. C. DeVoe was concerned with the Submission Date being September 15th noting the date being the start of the next school year which would not give participants enough time. J. Sabo suggested changing the Submission Date. C. DeVoe suggestion changing the date to some time before Thanksgiving. With regard to Judging Criteria, G. Van Antwerp suggested steering people toward simplicity and community enhancing. Technical Merit tends to steer people away from the spirit of community access. J. Sabo suggested being selective about who judges the event. He felt it was better if they had experience to be able to handle any emotions and artistic temperaments that may come into play with the judging process. Also, consider a judge or judges who have worked with high school students as they will know their limitations and have empathy for them.
Member Items and Issues:
On behalf of K. Cornet, R. Goodkind asked if copies of the meeting tapes for the last meeting and the current meeting could be provided to K. Cornet. G. Van Antwerp said that if he provides the tapes, copies would be made. Also, on behalf of K. Cornet, R. Goodkind said that K. Cornet would like to have a DPUC member present at the meetings. J. Sabo pointed out that J. Mustich and K. Cornet were no longer Council members because they have missed the past six meetings. J. Bell suggested letters be sent to each of them. The Council agreed.
A motion was made by C. DeVoe to adjourn the meeting at 10:05 p.m. The motion was seconded by K. Donahue and carried unanimously.
Respectfully submitted by: Amy Holding, Recording Secretary
NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, May 11, 2004 at Charter Communications offices in Newtown, 7:30 p.m.
Cable Advisory Council