Cable Advisory Council
of Charter Communications

   
PO Box 87
Newtown, CT 06470
 
     
May 14, 2002 Minutes
 
         
 
Cable Advisory Council
P. O. Box 87
Newtown, Connecticut

MINUTES

Public Regular Meeting - Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Newtown, Connecticut


There was a regular meeting of the Cable Advisory Council called to order at 7:37 p.m. May 14, 2002 by Chairperson, Carl DeVoe at the offices of Charter Communications in Newtown, Connecticut.

ATTENDEES:
Jeffery Jorgenson, Alex Forbes, Jill Zaloski, Paula Hopper, Eugene Rosen, Carmella Amodeo, Tom Joyner, John Sabo, Carl DeVoe, Chairperson. For Charter: Dick Elwell, Greg Van Antwerp, David King.

PUBLIC INPUT:
Mrs. Forbes, a resident of Monroe, expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of reception on the lower channels, channel 4 in particular. Dick Elwell indicated he would check to determine if there were any problems specifically related to Charter, indicating most of the problems with reception are due to the fact that the signal from New York is not as good as it was prior to September 11, 2001. T. Joyner also indicated poor reception was an issue. He expressed concern that digital cable is not producing a better image. D. Elwell again indicated he would check to see if something could be done to improve picture quality.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
P. Hopper questioned the wording on the approval of minutes from the meeting of January 22, indicating the way it was worded was confusing. There being no other comments, a motion to accept the Minutes of the March 12, 2002 meeting as submitted was made by T. Joyner and seconded by E. Rosen. The minutes were approved as submitted by a vote of 8 in favor, 0 opposed, and 1 abstention.

TREASURER'S REPORT:
C. DeVoe reviewed the Treasurer's Report provided to him by F. Standt.

Opening balance of the checking Account (3/12/02). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 160.34
CHECKS WRITTEN: Carl DeVoe (#163 -$14.97)
Closing balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 146.18
Opening Balance on the Money Market Account (3/12/02) . . . . . . . . . . $ 10,543.37
Interest 2/27/02 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.05
Interest 3/30/02) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.36
Closing Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $ 10,568.78
1 yr. plus CD @ $10,000 + $899.99 int. to date = $10,899.05

TOTAL FUNDS = $21,614.01

MOTION to accept as submitted was made by P. Hopper, seconded by J. Jorgenson. J. Sabo asked a question regarding how the advisory council obtained funds, and C. DeVoe explained that the funds are provided on an annual basis by the cable company (and previously by SNET). A vote was taken on the motion to approve the treasurer’s report and carried unanimously.

COMMUNICATIONS AND CORRESPONDENCE:
C. DeVoe indicated receipt of the CATV reports for February and March, 2002; correspondence from Charter’s attorneys relative to the new line-up (5/1/02) and adding the YES Network.; draft decision from DPUC, indicating it does not require the existing New Milford community access facility to be maintained but requires commitment to continue to meet community access needs throughout the area. They also reference the working relationship between Charter and the Advisory Council as being a positive one. The OCC also references this as a meaningful and cooperative relationship, however they also indicated that approximately 72% of the customers in the Newtown franchise area are not aware that the Advisory Council exists. OCC states that previous needs assessors suggest the council meetings be taped and aired as community access programming. The OCC also states that Charter must be more diligent about notifying and consulting with the advisory council prior to making policy changes such as Charter’s plan to reduce the senior citizens’ discount. The Advisory Council would like the PFR to reflect commitment to continue New Milford studio. The OCC criticizes the PFR as containing commitments to maintain only some of the current franchise attributes. The department recommends that Charter revise its PFR in specific areas. The department finds that Charter’s PFR, if modified as recommended, is generally acceptable. However, they concur with the OCC that the PFR fails to memorialize many of the plans and distinguishing factors for which Charter seeks recognition. The department’s review of Charter’s past performance and PFR indicates a franchise renewal is appropriate at a term of greater than 10 years. The OCC recommends a 13-year term if specific recommended changes are made to the PFR, or 11 years if changes are not made. The department determines that the combination of the company’s past performance and the PFR justifies a franchise term of 13 years, subject to Charter’s submittal of a PFR that incorporates all revisions discussed in the DPUC’s decision. C. DeVoe indicated they would attempt to get a copy of the draft decision to council members at some point so everyone can see what all the recommendations are. T. Joyner questioned whether Charter had responded to the draft decision yet, and C. DeVoe indicated that were in the process of preparing responses.

Letters received from Elmer and Pat Calhoun of Preston, requesting the addition of FX for the NASCAR events; Scott Clarke of Monroe relative to a billing problem. D. Elwell indicated FX’s programming, other than the races, is not such that it would draw viewers and support the expense that would be incurred. P. Hopper asked if a survey has ever been conducted regarding FX, since it seems to be an item that is brought up quite frequently. D. Elwell indicated he did not know, but stated it could be included in an annual survey.

T. Joyner indicated he ad received correspondence from D. Saltzman, Statewide Cable Advisory Council, dated 4/12/02, indicating Comcast and ATT are merging to form ATT Comcast Broadband System. This letter indicated hearings are scheduled to begin 4/29/02 in New Britain, and further indicating that it is appropriate for the still-existing statewide advisory council to participate in the proceeding. As a result, the DPUC has been requested to grant intervener status to the statewide council.

CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS REPORT:

D. Elwell indicated the draft decision is usually pretty well aligned with final decision. He indicated that, relative to the New Milford studio, Charter feels it is underutilized and has looked elsewhere in New Milford to find another location, but there is no available space that is deemed suitable. However, since it is a major factor with the DPUC and OCC, they are seriously considering staying in the current location. J. Dee is working on renegotiating a lease. P. Hopper questioned whether community groups have been invited in to view the facility and see what it has to offer. G. Van Antwerp indicated that open houses have been done in the past, but interest in community access in New Milford has been minimal. In addition, G. Van Antwerp indicated a great deal of advertising for the New Milford studio has been done but has not drawn much interest. D. Elwell indicated they are hoping the new building will be ready by the end of June. He further stated they will be up 20% on customer service staffing when the new building is ready. D. Elwell also indicated Charter found a buyer for the paging business, and the sale should be completed by the end of June. D. Elwell indicated that J. Vance had informed him that Worldgate onscreen look and features have been accepted well by customers. J. Jorgenson asked if Pipeline fell within the responsibilities of the advisory council. D. Elwell indicated the DPUC doesn’t regulate it as an information service. C. DeVoe indicated that, although Charter updates the council on its activities in that arena, their focus was really the cable services. D. Elwell indicated it has an effect on the customer service calls and the time it takes to resolve issues and/or explain services, but further indicated there were several new reps hired to service the Pipeline population. J. Sabo indicated he experienced numerous problems with Pipeline, which adversely affected him in his attempts to go online to file his taxes. He expressed concern about the technical expertise of the available reps, indicating that he was informed service for all customers within a specific area were taken down due to suspected theft, and the valid users would be reconnected upon calling to report the problem. J. Zaloski indicated she has had a similar situation in the past where service was disconnected for a period of time as a result of suspected misuse. D. Elwell indicated he was unaware of a policy where paying customers were disconnected. J. Jorgenson indicated this is something that has happened with him on cable in the past and is not unique to Pipeline. J. Jorgenson further added that the problem on Pipeline is probably due to the fact that Charter is not set up properly to be an ISP. D. Elwell indicated there is a separate business group for Pipeline. J. Jorgenson indicated he has used Pipeline for both business and personal use, and the level of service is not as reliable as the level of service of the more well known providers and the technical personnel does not seem to be well versed in procedure. D. Elwell indicated they are working towards improving the Pipeline service. J. Zaloski had specific questions on Worldgate, and D. Elwell indicated he would have J. Vance contact her. G. Van Antwerp distributed the new CATV newsletter and CATV report. He mentioned there will be another internship beginning soon and discussed the program briefly. G. Van Antwerp introduced Dave King as a new employee to the Community Access Department. Dave has had experience in community television at the Winsted system. He did his internship at Charter and then pursued a position in Winsted. G. Van Antwerp also announced they have begun regular staffed hours in New Milford on Mondays, 5-9 p.m. Dave King will be there, so community members will be able to walk in. This is an additional attempt to attract more interest in the New Milford studio. P. Hopper suggested inviting community businesses to hold a meeting there, enabling them to view the studio and what it has to offer. E. Rosen complimented Greg and his staff on the fine job they do.

OLD BUSINESS:
Scholarship Committee Report – P. Hopper indicated there is still some work to be done and will be ready to go forward by the end of the summer. She indicated there will probably be two grants – one for high school level individuals and one for mature adults. Charter is matching the $1,000 grant making it $2,000. Awards will be based on merit, good technical use of equipment, lighting, sound, etc. Charter has volunteered to have staff work with council to evaluate applications.

Web Site – T. Joyner indicated some progress had been made in researching the web site, stating he had spoken with someone regarding a package deal on hosting, set up and maintenance of a web site, but the $1,500 fee was in excess of that which he was authorized to act on ($1,000). He felt this fee was a bit expensive. He discussed the types of information that would be contained within the web site. C. Amodeo discussed the possibility of having high school student do it. J. Sabo, J. Jorgenson and T. Joyner discussed this possibility and agreed to have further discussion between themselves in this regard.

C. DeVoe opened the floor for nomination of Officers (Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary/Treasurer. K. Cornet had previously nominated P. Hopper for Chairperson, but P. Hopper indicated she would have to decline the nomination at this time, pending resolution of some personal issues. She indicated that if the election could be postponed by a few months, she would then be able to determine whether she could serve in this role. C. DeVoe suggested this could be done if a Vice Chair could be elected in the interim. C. DeVoe nominated J. Sabo as Vice Chair, which was seconded by P. Hopper. J. Sabo accepted the nomination. A vote was taken and it carried unanimously. T. Joyner offered to act as Chair for the July meeting. T. Joyner withdrew his nomination as Vice Chair. P. Hopper made a motion to nominate C. DeVoe and T. Joyner as co-chairs in the interim, pending the September 2002 election of a chairperson. J. Zaloski seconded the motion and it carried unanimously. It was further agreed that there should be 4 separate offices and that F. Standt would occupy the office of Treasurer and a new person would be elected to the office of Secretary. P. Hopper made a motion to re-elect F. Standt as Treasurer, which was seconded by J. Zaloski and carried unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS:
J. Zaloski commended Charter for their advertisements for the May 10 and 11 Relay for Life event.

A question was asked relative to the location of future meetings. It was agreed that the next meeting would be held at Charter Communication offices in Newtown since the New Milford Library is currently unavailable.

ADJOURNMENT:
A motion was made by E. Rosen to adjourn the meeting at 9:32 p.m. It was seconded by P. Hopper and carried unanimously.

Respectfully submitted by: Lorna J. Szalay, Recording Secretary

NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, July 9, 2002 at Charter Communications offices in Newtown, 7:30 p.m.

   
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