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.
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).