October 7, 2009 Minutes

MINUTES of CTAC of Hamden, New Haven, and West Haven – October 7, 2009

George Alexander, H, Treasurer

Tad Weinstein, WH, chair

Jennifer Sacco, H, secretary

Sharon Codeanne, Comcast

Joe Schofield, CTV

Guest from the public, Johnes Ruta, art director of New Haven Public Library

6:08 p.m. meeting called to order.

Comcast report given by Sharon Codeanne.   Tad raised the issue of the extreme increase for the cable modem rental, which will be $2/month, when a modem can be purchased for about $50 total.  George raised the issue of cable cards, which are much cheaper than cable boxes, yet Sharon informs us they don’t have full functionality, as they don’t have a hard drive, and so they are not capable of Video on Demand, etc.

George forwarded checks we received which belong to Comcast to Sharon.

Joe Schofield reported on behalf of CTV, including that they will be covering the three mayoral debates in the three towns.  They will not be covered live, but they will be recorded and broadcast within 24 hours.  The board of CTV formed an exploratory committee to explore sites for relocating CTV.  They did visit 5 or 6 sites, but did not find one quite yet.  George asked if there were any sites considered in Hamden or West Haven.  Jen suggested that CTV consider some of the available office space on Dixwell Avenue.  Joe is concerned how someone from West Haven would be able to get there by bus.  Jen volunteered to send addresses of available office space on Dixwell to Joe.  Joe does not anticipate necessarily moving before the first of the year.  George asked how much space they want (5000-6000 sq ft.) with parking and access to public transportation.

Tad raised discussion of CTV sending signal to AT&T subscribers.  Tad suggested that perhaps AT&T had made enough improvement in the quality of their signal, so maybe it was time to re-evaluate broadcasting on AT&T.  Joe says CTV still has an issue of not being able to surf channels.  Joe recommended that we come to the CTV meeting to raise the issue to the board of CTV.  We will send a message to the board to ask them to re-consider their position.  CTV is unwilling to pay to hook up to AT&T.

Johnes Ruta brought forth a letter describing programming – the “Classic Arts Showcase”—and would like to see it added to the Comcast lineup on a channel below 99.  Sharon said that she would bring this to Comcast, but Comcast would not be adding any analog channels to their lineup.  Joe said that CTV had carried Classic Arts Showcase, but they lost it because they needed an additional antenna, which would require a commercial install, which the Dish Network will not do, nor will they let CTV put it up themselves.  (They had a dish antenna, but it appears to have been hit by lightning and needs to be replaced.)  Joe indicated that CTV could get behind this issue, and that perhaps it would save Comcast some customers from leaving to the Dish Network in order to receive it.

George presented the mail to Comcast.

We postponed a decision on the renewal of our financial support of the Alliance for Community Media until we are able to get the point of view of CTV next month.

Tad and Joyce attended the statewide meeting of the AT&T advisory council.  Cablevision has a statewide contract as well, though they are not available in all areas, though they were present at the meeting.

Tad asked George to send an email to Joe Schofield to take back to the CTV board about bringing CTV to AT&T, now that the viewing capability is improved.

December meeting in West Haven will be held on the second Weds. Of the month instead of the first Weds. to meet Tad’s schedule.

Meeting adjourned at 7:35 p.m.



Baldwin Advocates for Community Access TV

October 8, 2009


Public, Educational, Governmental Channels Need Support

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin has introduced the Community Access Preservation (CAP) Act of 2009 (H.R. 3745) to address the challenges faced by public, educational, and governmental (PEG) TV channels and community access television stations. 

Historically, the funding for and broadcast of PEG channels have been negotiated as part of local franchise agreements between cable companies and local franchise authorities. However, twenty-three states have enacted new telecommunication laws that establish state-level franchise authorities. As a result of these recent state-wide agreements and a lack of adequate federal protection, some PEG channels now face significant broadcast and funding obstacles. 

“Local access channels bring unique voices, perspectives, and programming to television,” said Congresswoman Baldwin. “The nature of television programming is changing, as are the methods in which that programming is delivered. These changes should not come at the expense of the diversity and vibrancy of local voices,” Baldwin said. 

PEG channels connect residents with their local government in much the same way C-SPAN connects people to activities in Congress. Local school districts operate channels to feature school board meetings and forums, interviews, lectures, and sporting events not otherwise broadcast on television. Additionally, communities adopt various genres of PEG programming to reflect local interests. According to a survey conducted by National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, religious shows represent 20-40% of local access programming. 

PEG stations and channels are locally funded, produced, and viewed and current federal law and a number of state laws are silent as to the basic requirements for PEG broadcasts or do not require dedicated funding beyond an “adequate assurance of financial support.” Some franchised cable operators carry PEG channels differently than commercial channels, broadcasting them in reduced resolution, displaying them in menu-format, or simply moving them to a digital-only tier where they are inaccessible to analog cable customers. In some cases, customers must now pay extra fees in order to receive PEG channels. In other cases, operators are refusing to pass through PEG closed captioning unless a special request is made. This treatment undervalues PEG channels and their viewers. 

The Community Access Preservation (CAP) Act would address the immediate issues facing PEG channels by:

  • Allowing PEG fees to be used for any PEG-related purposes;
  • Requiring PEG channels to be carried in the same manner as local broadcast channels;
  • Requiring the FCC to study the effect state video franchise laws have had on PEG channels, and requiring operators to provide the greater of the support required under state laws, or the support historically provided for PEG; and
  • Making cable television-related laws and regulations applicable to all landline video providers.

“Decisions at the state and federal level have combined to create a crisis for PEG. With the CAP Act, Rep. Baldwin effectively addresses the most immediate problems and opens the door to the future by preserving support for PEG while the FCC conducts its study. This bill is critical to us. Wisconsin’s rich community access heritage is on the line,” said Mary Cardona, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of PEG Channels. 

“Community Media has a four decade history of connecting communities with their governments, schools, churches, friends and neighbors. The future existence of community media is being threatened against the intent of Congress for localism and diversity of voices in media. With the CAP Act, Rep. Baldwin addresses immediate needs to preserve and protect the important role PEG channels play in advancing democratic ideals through community uses of media,” said Matt Schuster, Chair, Alliance for Community Media. 

The Community Access Preservation (CAP) Act does not assume a “one size fits all” PEG structure, instead leaving the decision to negotiate for PEG channels to franchising authorities and the local communities they represent. 

Baldwin’s legislation is supported by the Alliance for Community Media (ACM) and the National Association of Telecommunication Officers and Advisors (NATOA).


September 2, 2009 Minutes

MINUTES of CTAC of Hamden, New Haven, and West Haven – September 2, 2009

Tad Weinstein, WH, chair

Jennifer Sacco, H, secretary

George Alexander, H, treasurer

Joyce Listro, NH BOE

Sharon Codeanne, Comcast

Joe Schofield, CTV

Meeting called to order 6:00 p.m.  Technically, we don’t have quorum, so can’t approve minutes from last meeting.

Sharon gave Comcast report; lots of sports channels moved around because of deal with ESPN and in order to make room for all of the channels picked up.

Tad raised issue of the free boxes with Sharon because John of Comcast indicated to us that the deal expired, but no one who had contacted our council appears to have ever gotten one.  Sharon said that the deal might be renewed in the future.  Next year as expanded basic is brought into digital, customers will be offered a free digital converter box forever, but this is not rolled out in our area yet and Sharon is not sure when it will be.

Tad asked about the message Gabriel Michael had received from Comcast when he moved which had email addresses for more than the relevant cable council. Sharon will look at the message that went out.

Joe Schofield asked if info. for CTV shows could be made available to Comcast customers, instead of just a generic description of “public access programming.”  Sharon will look into this to see if it is technologically feasible for the info. to be associated with the shows.

CTV had to file a report with the DPUC for the $64,000 grant that they received.  The idea had been to use the money to expand PEG programming, and Joe said the money would be used to create 2-3 new programs per channel.  As of the end of July, 39 new programs had been created (including outside programming and locally originated shows, which are about half and half of the new shows created.)  The server has been quite a boon to CTV in terms of getting new programming, and CTV will provide us with a report by the end of the year with all of the data about the impact of the server.

CTV is looking to move locations because parking is at a premium, and potentially will be a bigger issue when a new building is completed in this location.  The parking situation has meant that CTV had to have 2 staff members on Saturdays to supervise the entrances, and so have shut down on 2 Saturdays a month.  They would also like foot traffic, and so would like to move to downtown New Haven.  Finances are an issue, though, for moving to New Haven.  Joe believes they should be looking for a space to buy or at least have an option to buy.  Subscriber numbers are going up, more program content is going out, but people coming in to the station has leveled off.  The staff has been going out to the field to record things, but they would like to get back to a model where the public comes here to make their own programming.  They want to be on a bus line and have parking available which would at least be free to the producers.  Rent at the North Haven location has ballooned significantly, so move to North Haven hasn’t necessarily saved them money from whatever deal they would have had at the old New Haven location.

Joyce asked Joe about the return line from the Field House, and he said she should call CTV once a week to pester them to get out there to try to get it functional.

George will inquire about getting an additional key to our mailbox since Stu had the other one.

Alliance for Community Media membership is up for renewal.  We discussed whether or not to send an additional contribution. We didn’t send extra last year, because CTV had a difference of opinion with ACM about the collection of fees.  Joe had to leave early, so we tabled the issue until next month since we have time before the membership is due.

Tad asked if anyone could attend the ATT meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 23rd, but we do not know where the meeting is being held. Joyce made a deal with Tad that they would go as a team so long as it is not ridiculously far away (more than 20 miles away).

Jen raised the issue with Sharon of the difficulty of trying to pay cable bill online at (or—not clear which site it was, and the online chat person said they were combined).  George also said it was very difficult to get price/product information from

Meeting adjourned 7:00 p.m


August 5, 2009 Minutes

MINUTES of CTAC of Hamden, New Haven, and West Haven –  August 5, 2009

Tad Weinstein, WH, chair

Jennifer Sacco, H, secretary

George Alexander, H, treasurer

John Biaros, Comcast

Joe Schofield, CTV

Meeting called to order 6:00 p.m., though no quorum.  Joe Schofield was with us briefly to let us know that things are slow since it is summer and there is nothing much to report.  George let Joe know that the minutes of the meetings of the statewide video advisory council are available online.  Tad let him know that the channel 99 broadcast of PEG channel on AT&T is drastically improved in quality (in terms of loading speed).  Joe asked that the labels on the channels (26, 27, and 96) have incorrect labels on Comcast.

Those present agreed to vote on minutes online with 4 yes votes to approve (when number of members is 6)

John let us know that Red Sox on demand is available.  Accepted 8 checks, an application for senior discount, and a customer complaint.  Senior discount is 10% off and means-tested.  Comcast is no longer a sponsor of the tennis tournament.

Tad let us know that we had some publicity from our grant in the New Haven Register. 

No report back to us from CTV board meeting.

Correspondence-  bank statement and community media review.

George asked John about the free digital boxes in Hamden, because channels being bumped up to higher numbers and basic members were supposed to get a free digital box for a year, then for life, according to Sharon Codeanne at previous meetings.  John said promotion is over, but that the people who had contacted George directly could probably be provided for.

Tad distributed copies of Statewide Video Advisory Council (SVAC) schedule to see if anyone can attend.  No meeting place was identified in advanced.  At September meeting when we have more attendance, we will inquire if anyone can attend.

George gave us treasurer’s report.  We don’t have applicants from Hamden or West Haven for our grants.

Meeting adjourned 6:50 p.m.


July 1, 2009 Minutes

MINUTES of CTAC of Hamden, New Haven, and West Haven – July 1, 2009 

Tad Weinstein, WH

Jennifer Sacco, H

George Alexander, H

Gabriel Michael, NH

Joyce Listro, NH

Sharon Codeanne, Comcast

Joe Schofield, CTV

Peaches Quinn, NH


Meeting called to order 6:00 p.m. 

Introduction of guests Matt Lafferty, potential replacement for Gabriel Michael, and Larry McDonald, New Haven Board of Education.

Presentation of Stuart Arotsky Memorial grant funds to Larry McDonald of New Haven BOE.

Sharon presented July report from Comcast.

Jen asked Sharon about the establishment of “Police Blotter on Demand” on Comcast, and about whether Tivo interface would be made available to DVR customers with Comcast.  Sharon said the blotters have been very popular in other states and she believed Comcast approached the state to see if they wanted to make it available in our area.  She also said she did not think Tivo was planned for our area soon, but that she would inquire.

Joe gave CTV report: CTV engineer is contacting counterpart at Comcast to try to get the return line at the Field House functional.

George asked about digital boxes that will be free for a year from Comcast, if they had been given out yet.  Sharon will look into it to see if they are being distributed.

Update to last month’s issue of: “Joe asked about the availability of boxes because Comcast called CTV and asked them to take the bulletin about their availability from Comcast off the air.

Sharon will email appropriate wording for a bulletin to Joe with a Comcast number for people to call with questions.”

Sharon said that Comcast does not feel it is appropriate to broadcast consumer/promotional information on a CTV bulletin, so they would not be posting a new message.  She said there will be a new offer of “free” digital box and DTAs (sub-boxes for secondary televisions) for life, and that she believed that offer was to be rolled out in the fall.

Joe asked if PEG channels would be transferred to digital, but they will not be.

Joe said CTV is doing an audit next week on July 9th at 6:00 p.m., and invited a member of our board to attend.  Peaches is going to try to attend.

Joe said CTV is slowing down activity over the summer, however they are getting more programming submitted because it is easier to submit with their new system.

Regarding issues of the digital transition:  Comcast anecdotally did not have a report of too many calls.  People have experienced the “digital cliff,” however, where channels that came in weakly via analog will not come in at all anymore.

House bill 6604 appears to have died.

George reported there was no information to be found about AT&T advisory board, and also passed checks that came to our mailbox along to Sharon.

Election of officers:  Tad Weinstein, chair.  Peaches Quinn, vice chair.  George Alexander, treasurer.  Jennifer Sacco, secretary.

Meeting adjourned 7:00 p.m.


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May 6, 2009 Minutes

MINUTES of CTAC of Hamden, New Haven, and West Haven – May 6, 2009

In attendance:
Gabriel Michael NH
George Alexander H
Jennifer Sacco H
Tad Weinstein WH
Joyce Listro NH BOE

No representative present from Comcast; no representative present from CTV.

Review of grant letter for New Haven Board of Education with updates for this year’s grant for 2 cameras and a computer.  Gabriel will write up a draft copy of the updated letter and will send to council via email.

No update from Hamden about a grant request; at last meeting a representative from Hamden was going to speak with Joe Schofield of CTV.  

Tad will be sending a letter to the superintendant of West Haven to see if they would like to request grant money as well.

Customer complaints that we received were largely in relation to removal of the Fox 5 channel from New York.

Jen suggested that we generate a fact sheet about how to use an antenna and make print copies for distribution to senior centers and to send in the mail to people who write in (who are not internet users.)  George does not believe we should suggest to people that they put up their own antennae because of the lightning concerns.  It should be done by a professional.  George and Gabriel suggested that a handout be printed in large type so it can be easily read.

Recruitment discussed; Gabriel will contact someone at Yale for a replacement.

George gave a financial report; the new check that Sharon Codeanne of Comcast said she would send has not arrived.

Meeting adjourned at 7:00 p.m.



April 1, 2009 Minutes

MINUTES of CTAC of Hamden, New Haven, and West Haven – April 1, 2009

Call to order

Members present:
Tad; Peaches; Joyce; George; Gabriel

Comcast (Sharon)
CTV (Joe)

Comcast Report:
– discussed Comcast Cares Day
– discussed PBS station’s choice of digital carriage (WNET-DTSD)
– George reported a complaint of someone losing channel 13 WNET; this is because of the WNET switch
– Changes that require a “digital converter box” will work either with a Comcast box, which is free for a year, then $1.95 / month after that; may also work with some TVs that have a digital QAM tuner
– Sharon noted that the plan is to eventually drop all analog channels, and have a completely digital basic tier. This could take two years.
– George asked if the digital basic tier would fall under FCC rules, but no one knows what that tier will look like, or the price of it, yet.
– Sharon mentioned the Digital Economy package (digital package w/o sports).
– Sharon will send lineups and prices to CTAC.
– Sharon mentioned DTAs or DTCs (basically small cable boxes so you only need one main cable box).
– Discussed loss of channel 5 (WNYW-FOX); legal rule that cable providers have to block out most of that channel, so Comcast decided to drop it.
– Joyce mentioned that even when there isn’t duplicative programming, sometimes it’s blocked out – in the case of news from CT vs. news from NY. Peaches mentioned that even if it’s only a fraction of the programming, it’s important.
– Sharon is going to send Joe an e-mail detailing how people who are losing 13 WNET can get a digital box from Comcast free for a year, which CTV will broadcast as a public service.
– Sharon discussed the ongoing negotiations with NFL Network (channel 275) that may fall through.

– noted that we’re getting lots of misdirected payment. George thinks it may be because the Comcast bill has the correct address in fairly small font, and the CTAC address is the same size. People have remitted payment in the Comcast envelope, folding the bill so that the CTAC address shows.
– Described a complaint from a customer complaining about lack of voice service (they may be confused about if they have Comcast voice service or not).
– A compliment! Someone who complained before wrote back to note excellent service.
– We still have not received the Comcast $2000 check for the year; it may have gone to Stuart’s house. Sharon is going to have the local office write us one instead.
– Noted contact information changes that need to be made in the Comcast/CTAC announcements that CTV carries.

Gabriel: asked if there were service issues with Internet reported in the East Rock area – Sharon will inquire about it.

End of Comcast Report

Info on Grants

Gabriel reporting on New Haven grant proposal – Larry McDonnell is the contact at NHPS.
– We agree to read the proposal in detail, and vote on it at the next meeting (May 1).

George reporting on Hamden grant proposals:
– George contacted someone who suggested that the Hamden system needed modulators; these would be too expensive for this grant ($3k to 5k; we discussed a limit of $1 to 1.5k). The Hamden system person contacted Joe at CTV, and Joe will help him apply for a grant from DPUC.

Stuart may have been in touch with someone in the West Haven school system; Joe suggested calling Tony in West Haven to discuss the grant.

Joyce asked Joe about progress at the field house connection. Joe is going to try and move the date for wiring up the field house so that Joyce can attend.

Joyce motioned to name the technology grant in memory of Stuart; Peaches seconds. Vote: unanimous in favor.

CTV Report from Joe:

New digital equipment is installed; they are in the process of getting the programs back on the air. Picture quality is better now.


Peaches asked about the New Haven proposal’s context.

I gave Larry’s specs:

“The Mac Mini they have chosen includes AppleCare, so it comes to $946 (from the education store), with the following specs:
– 2 GHz
– 2 GB RAM
– 320 GB hard drive
– DVD-burner (superdrive)
– Keyboard and mouse
– AppleCare Protection Plan (3 years)
Larry told me to update the proposal with this number.”

The $946 plus 2 x $150 for TuffCams comes to a total of $1246.

Peaches proposes that we act on the grant tonight; George wants time to read over the proposal. It was suggested that we review the NHPS proposal, and motion and vote online.

Meeting is adjourned, 7 PM.


February 4, 2009 Minutes

MINUTES of CTAC of Hamden, New Haven, and West Haven – February 4, 2009   

Stu Arotsky WH
George Alexander H
Gabriel Michael NH
Jennifer Sacco H
Tad Weinstein WH
Sharon Codeanne Comcast

6:08 p.m. meeting called to order.

Old business: Tad is pulling together our annual report for 2008 to the DPUC. 
Mail: Alliance for community media sent us a welcoming packet (again).  Gabriel is considering joining the listserv to monitor their updates.  They have a national conference in Portland Oregon.

New business: motion to donate $300 to the Alliance for Community media passed (in addition to our $100 membership fee).

George made motion to approve new 2009 budget, which has same line items as last year, except for the new allocation to the Alliance for Community media, which is a $300 donation on top of our $100 membership fees. Jen seconded, approved.

Tad has suggested that we make a grant available again to the towns for a school cable-related project again.   Stu has suggested we announce to the towns a new program of this sort so they may apply.  George suggests we email the school superintendants of the towns to solicit applications.  George will email our old grant regulations from the last time this was done for us to look over.  George proposes we temporarily allocate $1500-2000 per town.

Stu is concerned that CTV is in violation of the rules because they are not submitting a budget to us, etc. 

Digital transition is still set for February 17th, though there is the possibility it could still be moved to June.

Jen raised the issue of working to petition to move public access back to regularly accessible channels and viewing quality.  Perhaps we need to convince CTV to join AT&T (even on channel 99) so that we could have standing to file complaints with the DPUC.  As our current area has no representation on AT&T, we don’t appear to have standing.  Unless, those of us who are AT&T customers were to write complaints to AT&T that PEG channels are not available, though AT&T would plausibly put that back on CTV.  We could still complain to AT&T about the low quality presentation of public access originating from other towns. 

Minutes from last month’s meeting approved.  Motion to adjourn 6:57 p.m.


January 14, 2009 Minutes

MINUTES of CTAC of Hamden, New Haven, and West Haven – January 14, 2009

Tad Weinstein, WH
Jennifer Sacco, H
George Alexander, H
Gabriel Michael, NH
Peaches Quinn, NH
Joe Schofield, CTV

Meeting called to order 6:00 p.m.

Tad presented emailed updates from Comcast, including shifts in channels from December and January.
Joe Schofield distributed CTV report for November.
CTV received grant from DPUC for $64,000 to redo cable pass.  Will be able to use DVD  and digital files to broadcast out of CTV, instead of VHS.  DVDs can be made at CTV by producers if they don’t already have one.  

Comcast moved channel 23 to 96.  Comcast sent a check to CTV for $500 to cover incidental costs associated with replacing logos, etc., but this doesn’t cover the cost and CTV will not accept the check. CTV perceives the change as “slamming.”  Some people with only basic cable or old tvs cannot receive this channel.

CTV will have capability of doing Video On Demand because of the upgrade.  CTV still has no plans to broadcast over AT&T, because the quality of the viewer is still too low.

Joe said he and another 2 members of CTV are going to the inauguration and will interview people, so Jen Sacco gave him the name and number of Scott McLean of Quinnipiac University who has a group of students there so they could be interviewed.

Tad asked the group to come up with goals for 2009.  Tad suggested perhaps get Comcast to create another survey; our group could be more proactive with attending CTV meetings.  George suggested we could be more proactive with the DPUC, regarding AT&T (who has been non-responsive to us), etc.  Jen suggested we focus on getting AT&T to show public television with better quality broadcast.  

Tad passed out correspondence.

New business: Jen raised the issue of the attempts to delay the shift to digital broadcasting
Correspondence was reviewed and passed on to Sharon for Comcast response.

Motion to adjourn made by Tad, meeting adjourned 7:25.