Cable Advisory Council
of Charter Communications

   
PO Box 87
Newtown, CT 06470
 
     
May 23, 2001 Minutes
 
         
 
Cable Advisory Council
P. O. Box 87
Newtown, Connecticut

MINUTES

Public Regular Meeting - Wednesday, May 23, 2001
Charter Communications, Newtown


There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:45 p.m. May 23, 2001 by Chairperson, Carl DeVoe at the offices of Charter Communications, Newtown, Connecticut.

ATTENDEES:
Fred Standt, Treasurer, Eugene Rosen, Carmella Amodeo, Judith Eslami, Joe Mustich, Ken Cornet, Tom Joyner, Rick Levy, Carl DeVoe, Chairperson. For Charter: Janice Vance, John Dee, Greg Van Antwerp, Dick Elwell.

Prior to the meeting, a ceremony was held to dedicate the new mobile van in the name of James Diaz.

PUBLIC INPUT:
No public present.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
A notation was made that on the last page, paragraph 2, the word "the" should be "they". A motion to accept the Minutes of the January 30, 2001 meeting as amended was made by F. Standt and seconded by C. Amodeo. The minutes were approved by a vote of 6 in favor, 0 opposed, and 3 abstentions (T. Joyner, K. Cornet and J. Mustich).

TREASURER'S REPORT:
Fred Standt issued the Treasurer's Report
Opening balance of the checking Account (1/30/01). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 195.25
CHECKS WRITTEN: Newtown Secretarial Svc. (#154) (312.74)
DEPOSIT (1/30/01) 500.00
Closing balance 5/9/01. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 382.51
Opening Balance on the Money Market Account (1/10/01). . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 9,837.65
Withdrawal (to checking - 1/30/01) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (500.00)
Interest ( to 5/9/01) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68.47
Closing Balance (5/9/01). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 9,406.12
1 yr. plus CD @ $10,218.10 + int. cred. = $10,431.95

TOTAL FUNDS = $20,220.58

MOTION to accept as submitted was made by R. Levy and seconded by T. Joyner. J. Eslami questioned where the deposit of $2,000 from charter was indicated, and F. Standt stated that it had not yet been received for 2001, indicating it is usually not received until later in the year. He noted that it was requested in May, but had not yet been received. J. Eslami noted that according to the By-Laws of the Council, the funds are to be received from Charter each January. F. Standt indicated that in the past these funds were requested in June/July, but in an attempt to collect them earlier, they have been requested earlier this year and will continue to be requested earlier in future years in an attempt to get the funds in earlier. C. DeVoe noted that last year a check had also been received from SNET. T. Joyner stated that he had received a letter from SNET Americast, dated April 2, 2001, indicating that on March 14, 2001 they had received approval from DPUC to discontinue service, noting that June 30, 2001 would be the final day of service. He further noted that they indicated they would be providing the $2,000 contribution to Cable Advisory Council for 2001, with this being the final payment. A vote was taken to approve the Treasurer's Report and it carried unanimously.

COMMUNICATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
C. DeVoe reviewed correspondence received from the DPUC regarding the decision having to do with Community Access facilities and fundraising activities. He noted that the DPUC encourages community access providers to adopt any necessary policies or operating rules to address the issue, and C. DeVoe recommended the access department come up with regulations to accomplish this.

C. DeVoe noted receipt of CATV reports for February and March. He also noted that two letters were received from the Town of New Milford, each one appointing a representative to the council -- Tom Morey and Rich Kozier. A filing from the DPUC application of SNET for approval to reclassify message toll service from non-competitive to competitive was received. Additional correspondence was received from the attorneys regarding franchise renewal for Western Connecticut. Three letters were received regarding program changes, February 7, April 6, and March 28. Finally, a packet of information regarding a suit filed by WRNN, and J. Dee indicated that has been resolved.

CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS REPORT:
J. Dee introduced Dick Elwell, the newly appointed director of community access/government relations director. He previously ran the Willimantic system and worked closely with James Diaz. J. Dee addressed the matter involving WRNN, indicating they were claiming must-carry rights, but their service is being delivered via fiber optic cable owned by Charter. The lease they previously had is expired, and Charter had informed them that they were being dropped because they couldn't provide an over-the-air signal that was adequate. They wrote to the DPUC in an attempt to get this reversed, but the DPUC's response was that they would not involve themselves with this issue. Charter's removed WRNN from the Litchfield system, but they do have must-carry rights in Fairfield County since they claim New York City to be their base, although they are transmitting from Kingston, New York. J. Dee further noted that the replacement channel, Charter Information Channel, would provide customers with a lot of information they could not get elsewhere. It will be used to keep customers informed about various items relative to customer service.

J. Vance informed the Council that the system upgrade is complete. She further noted that the Charter Pipeline Bronze Residential Service has been upgraded at no additional cost, and other levels will gradually be increased.

J. Dee indicated that the rewiring and installation of new cable at Heritage Village is progressing slowly due to the work necessary to conceal wires and problems with contractors. This project was scheduled for completion by August 1, but they have been given an extension of two months. J. Dee indicated that they should have no problem meeting the new deadline.

J. Vance indicated there would be some channel changes on June 1, adding Court TV and Outdoor Life. These channels were selected by customers on a recent survey. She further indicated they are currently doing the first phase of the switch-out of analog premium channels to digital. The four core premium channels will be coming off on August 1. There are currently approximately 16,000 customers with digital service, vs. 4,000 with premium analog service. She noted that June 1 there would be a rate increase on expanded service, which is completely a result of programming costs increasing. She further noted that every 12 months, by FCC rules, you are permitted to change the basic rate, equipment rates and service rates, as they are federally-regulated rates. She indicated there will be no increase in the basic rate in August, and the equipment rates and service rates will increase across the board for all Charter systems. She indicated that some of the rates actually decreased as a result of changes to "task times". J. Vance also noted the launch of a new digital baseball package. She indicated that winners of a recent contest would soon be chosen for a trip to Australia.

J. Dee discussed plans to construct a new building on the recently purchased 2-acre parcel of land next to their existing building. Plans are to build an 18,000 to 23,000 sq. ft. building to house existing operations, with the second floor being dedicated to customer service and marketing. This will allow for better communications within the customer service environment and has ample room for 125 customer service representatives, and possibly more. The first floor will house a large training room, a cafeteria, and offices. The existing building will house the regional staff and community access facilities, as well as garage the new mobile production vehicle.

C. Amodeo indicated she had called Charter on May 23 and experienced a delay in the telephone system, and J. Dee indicated that were experiencing problems, but it should be resolved soon. C. DeVoe asked when the new building was expected to be built, and J. Dee indicated it should be built by December 2001. It's a pre-engineered building, but the fascia will resemble brick. He also indicated the parking area would more than double

J. Dee informed the council members that Hickory Mountain Assoc. has won the bid for the needs assessment. He indicated Charter had scheduled a meeting with them for June 20 and has invited Allan Hahn, the owner, to attend the next advisory council meeting. C. DeVoe asked that Charter have Mr. Hahn provide examples of instruments he uses. J. Dee indicated he would provide a copy of what Hickory Mountain Assoc. is asking Charter to provide, and indicated he would ask them to provide a sample survey to be provided to council members for the purpose of discussions/questions at the next meeting. J. Dee indicated the assessment normally takes 2 to 3 months to complete.

K. Cornet and C. Amodeo asked questions relative to analog service and pricing vs. digital service and pricing as well as the switch-out of premium channels from analog. R. Levy questioned the existence of advertising on digital programming, and J. Vance indicated that most channels have advertising. K. Cornet asked if Charter could provide some type of literature explaining exactly how the various components are broken out, what needs a box, why, etc.

G. Van Antwerp distributed the most recent Community Vision 21 newsletter and public access report. He indicated the new internship program is beginning soon. He explained this is a 180-hour program, conducted three hours per week and running approximately 8 months. He discussed an upcoming Homefront program on summer health and safety. J. Dee asked if tapes were received from CTN, and G. Van Antwerp indicated they were. J. Dee indicated that CTN is like a Connecticut version of C-Span, stating that Winsted has a live feed and, since they have a fiber optic feed to Winsted, they have connected with them and will probably start showing some of the CTN programming live in the near future.

E. Rosen commented that the Community Bulletin Board has a new appearance and looks great. There was some discussion regarding airing the Bulletin Board at certain times throughout the day, rather than just on a random schedule, to enable viewers to have a specific timeframe to view.

C. DeVoe commented on the dedication ceremony and what a nice presentation it was.

OLD BUSINESS:
C. DeVoe asked if anyone had any input on the van use policy. K. Cornet asked for Charter to supply some type of list of ideas for the van, outlining what it is to be used for, to be presented to the town selectmen to generate interest in the various towns. C. DeVoe indicated it should also outline the power requirements, etc. G. Van Antwerp indicated he would work on developing this list.

E. Rosen indicated that P. Hopper, J. Eslami and he met several times regarding the James Diaz Scholarship. He indicated that, since P. Hopper has all the materials, and she was not in attendance, the presentation should be delayed until the next meeting.

K. Cornet suggested a web site be developed for the advisory council to allow more input from the public, as well as developing some type of advertising to publicize the existence of the advisory council. T. Joyner suggested putting that on as an agenda item for the next meeting, and he also volunteered to develop the web page.

C. Amodeo indicated that, prior to being asked to serve on the advisory council, she didn't know of its existence. She asked if something could be included with cable bills, and J. Vance indicated that had been done repeatedly. R. Levy suggested putting the date and time of the next cable council meeting in the bill and invite public comment. J. Mustich suggested that if the van visits a particular town, the Cable Advisory Council representatives for that town be present to meet the public. A suggestion was made to distribute a flyer on location from the van, indicating the Advisory Council exists and listing the various members for each town.

C. DeVoe indicated P. Hopper had previously brought up the issue of the By-laws. He indicated it would be appropriate to solicit volunteers to research existing by-laws to determine if any changes are required. C. DeVoe indicated a copy of the existing By-laws would be distributed with the Minutes of the 5/23/01 meeting.

NEW BUSINESS:
T. Joyner volunteered to create a web page, indicating he would like to work with published information and not be responsible for writing it or deciding what goes on it. C. DeVoe noted that quite awhile ago the council had discussed what kind of things would be appropriate for the web site, links, questions, etc. He indicated they were detailed in past Minutes and stated he would pull them out for additional review.

ADJOURNMENT:
R. Levy motioned to adjourn the meeting at 9:15 p.m. E. Rosen seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

Respectfully submitted by: Lorna J. Szalay, Recording Secretary

NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, July 10, 2001 at Brookfield Town Hall (Board of Education Curriculum Room, 2nd Floor), 7:30 p.m.

   
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