August 29, 2013

CMA Members Seek Comcast's Commitment to Strong Community Benefits in its Franchise Renewal

On August 28, 2013, nine CMA members led by Robbie Smith, met with Comcast executives Matt Summy, Lisa Ouzounian, and Comcast's Counsel, John McGuire, to discuss the City of Chicago's upcoming cable franchise agreement with Comcast. Comcast's current franchise expires in March of 2014. 

CMA Members made explicit the expectations they have that Comcast make a commitment to a strong community benefits agreement to support public access television. 

CMA Member Jake Austen described the group's concerns at the erosion of public access across the country, the harmful language of the recent cable industry proposal at the state level, and PEG cuts and closures that have resulted from the diversion of funding away from public access.

Phyllis Logan said that CMA is seeking Comcast's commitment to a renewal agreement that meets the following three critical concerns:

a) Direct funding of CAN TV to preserve the independent management structure that has worked for 30 years
b) Funding that meets or exceeds the RCN agreement
c) Technical parity that at a minimum meets the RCN standard

For a full text of the letter sent to Matt Summy summarizing the meeting, click here. 


August 15, 2013

CMA Members Attend Cable Compliance Hearing

CMA Members Carole Herhold, William Brown, and Gwendolyn Chubb attended the August 14 Cable Compliance Hearing at City Hall and testified to the importance of CAN TV as a local resource. They noted the importance of Comcast committing to a strong community benefits agreement in the upcoming franchise renewal. CMA's past activities have helped secure a substantial community benefits agreement from RCN in 2012.

Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Rosemary Krimbel and Deputy Commissioner Jim McVane were present, as well as Comcast representatives.

Ms. Herhold made a compelling case for the value of the public’s channels, and reiterated CAN TV's founding principles:

a) That cable operators give a public benefit through providing CAN TV channels and support for public use, and
b) That these channels be directly funded and independently managed, without any interference in content.

She also noted that CMA wants the public’s channel to grow as cable grows to increase support for public access television, and that CMA is seeking cable company’s commitment that the public’s channels be capable of changing as technology changes so the public is not left behind. Finally, Ms. Herhold expressed disappointment at the recent proposal of the Illinois Cable and Communications Association, of which Comcast is a member, which would have harmed PEG channels, and she applauded the state’s rejection of that proposal. She stated that Comcast, as the nation’s largest cable company, is in a strong position to meet or exceed the benefits provided by RCN.

Mr. Brown testified to the importance of CAN TV channels and services, particularly training, to seniors that participate in Senior Network. He noted the importance of funding support to the community.

Ms. Chubb reiterated Ms. Herhold’s thanks for Commissioner Krimbel’s leadership and RCN for the strong public commitment they made in recent franchise negotiations. She made clear that CMA fully expects “that Comcast meet or exceed the standard set by RCN.”

CMA Members will soon meet with Comcast to discuss the future of CAN TV.