FINAL— CTAC Meeting Minutes May 5, 2021 – ZOOM TELECONFERENCE
Yvonne Manning-Jones – (New Haven) – Stand in Chair
(Peaches Quinn (New Haven) Acting Chair – absent
Laurel Coleman (Hamden) Advisor
George Alexander (Hamden) Treasurer
Anthony Cardo (Hamden) Advisor
Johnes Ruta – (New Haven) – Acting Secretary
Joe Schofield – CTV Representative – in attendance.
Sharon Codeane – Comcast Representative – not in attendance but report submitted
Call to order 6:03pm.
2. April Minutes
George’s requested edits – done.
Laurel’s requested edits – done.
Yvonne – Motion to accept April Minutes. Laurel – seconds the Motion.
3. Treasurer’s Report
George reports “Balance remains the same.” (No expenditures)
Anthony makes Motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report. Johnes seconds the Motion.
CTV Report – Joe Schofield.
a. CTV offices and studios have been closed since March 2020 due to Covid-19,
but will reopen June 1st for staff only, not for producers. Then September 1st for
producers. All persons who enter must show proof of vaccination (CT Vaccination
Card. Masks and Social Distancing will be required for all. Otherwise persons
will not be allowed entry. )
The Cable Television Advisory Council can resume meetings in the CTV office in
c. Laurel states her concern for unvaccinated individuals, but agrees with CTV protocol.
Joe notes that Laurel uses the CTV Editing Room, but indicates that there is a CTV
editing program that can be downloaded onto her computer for use at home.
d. George asks Joe if CTV had gotten any Small Business Loans?
Joe indicates that CTV is not eligible for C(3) Funding. But CTV is trying to get
additional money from the State of Connecticut.
5. Comcast Report – S. Codeanne
Sharon Codeanne submitted the Comcast Progress Report. Please see attachment
6. Old Business
a. CTAC Public Service Announcement- PSA call for new CTAC members: Laurel requested an update from CTV program scheduling to learn when this PSA would be run. Laurel reported CTV has not given a date the PSA will be run, but has stated they recognize our need to recruit council members.
- Community Awards – Anthony Cardo – No response from outreach as yet
- CTAC Facebook Page- ? Yvonne, status?
CTAC Website- George say that he has updated our website (cableadvisory.org) info with news about Comcast programming for children, and further commented that Comcast really needs the same programming options for seniors.
- Letter to 3 Mayors urging city wide internet – still deferred….
Within your networks and social media: Urge all to send letters to the Mayors of our 3 towns to implement Internet city wide wifi free of charge.
Comcast has not yet responded to CTAC’s call for city-wide WiFi.
- General Assembly-
1) Governor’s Bill 6442- Internet Equity
Continue to write/call legislators daily!
2) Support Bill in U.S. Congress proposing internet become a public utility
7. New Business
- Annual Report- Minutes review and financial report being added
- Appoint CTAC Nominating Committee – Discussion took place
- Subscriber Issues
- Subscriber Correspondence – None
- Complaints: Laurel states that there have been numerous complaints to Comcast about their “unjustified” rate increases during the pandemic, + $10 in February 2020 and an additional $10 in January 2021.
- Other: Consumer Inquiry
Laurel spoke with Peaches about a Comcast subscriber hoping to get assistance for her monthly bill. Peaches checked with Sharon . Unfortunately there is a wait period of 3 months an individual needs to be on unemployment before any funding help from Comcast kicks in.
7:07 pm, Laurel makes Motion to Adjourn. Johnes seconds Motion. Agreed.
Next CTAC Meeting: Wednesday, June 2, 2021, 6:00pm, via Zoom.
May 5th,, 2021 Meeting Minutes respectfully submitted by Johnes Ruta, (New Haven) Acting Secretary.
We have seen time and again how access to technology opens a new world of possibilities, and that’s why we are thrilled to ask you to join us in celebrating the 10th anniversary of Internet Essentials, our comprehensive effort to close the digital divide. Since launching in 2011, the Internet Essentials program has connected more than 44,000 households in Connecticut to high-speed Internet. As we look back on our decade-long commitment to connecting the unconnected, we’re also looking ahead. We will continue to work to close the digital divide by sharpening our focus on programs that provide media and technology skills training that can lead to economic mobility.
In Connecticut, we have continued to drive Internet adoption through several initiatives, which include increasing the speed of our Internet Essentials service to 50 Mbps downstream and 5 Mbps upstream. This was the sixth time since the inception of Internet Essentials that we increased speeds for these customers while keeping the price of the program at $9.95/month. We are also continuing to offer 60 days of free Internet Essentials service to new customers through June 30, 2021 and our public WiFi hotspots remain open for free to everyone, even non-Xfinity Internet subscribers.
In addition, we are proud partners of the Connecticut State Department of Education to provide Interest Essentials to even more low-income families, through our Internet Essentials Partnership Program.
Lastly, we’re excited to announce the launch of 25 WiFi-Connected “Lift Zones” across Connecticut, 13 of which are now open. Comcast “Lift Zones” enable us to forge partnerships with community centers to support safe spaces for homework, training, social activities, and more, driven by connectivity.
We’re immensely proud of everything Internet Essentials has accomplished – and we know from our work over the past 10 years that the digital divide can only be addressed through a comprehensive effort by nonprofit and community-based organizations, educational institutions, faith leaders, as well as the government and private sectors. We can’t thank you enough for being part of this journey with us and invite you to view our 2021 Internet Essentials Progress Report to learn more about how we have evolved to serve our communities over the years, as well as through the ongoing pandemic.
Thank you again for your support and the work you do in your communities every day.
Director, Government & Regulatory Affairs
222 New Park Drive
Berlin, CT 06037
One Comcast Center
Philadelphia, PA 19103
COMCAST LAUNCHES DISNEY+ AND ESPN+ ON XFINITY
Millions of X1 and Flex Customers Can Now Enjoy Disney+ Original Series, Feature-Length Films, Documentaries, Live-Action and Animated Series, the Latest Releases from The Walt Disney Studios and More via the Award-Winning Xfinity Voice Remote
ESPN+ Launches on Flex Today and X1 in the Coming Weeks, Bringing Fans Thousands of Live Sports Events Including the Upcoming FA Cup Semi-Finals, UFC 261, new MLB and MLS seasons, The Masters & PGA Championship, Original Programming and More;
PHILADELPHIA – (March 29, 2021) – Comcast and The Walt Disney Company today announced the start of the rollout of Disney+ and ESPN+ on Xfinity, giving X1 and Flex customers access to the Disney+ library of movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, along with thousands of live sports events and original programming from ESPN+.
The launch means in the coming days tens of millions of customers will soon have access to Disney+ in an easy-to-use, state-of-the-art user interface that provides access to the best entertainment, just in time to enjoy the newly released series Marvel Studios’ “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier,” “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers,” and upcoming series “Big Shot,” premiering April 16, and “Secrets of the Whales,” premiering April 22.
Additionally, ESPN+ is now available to Flex customers via the ESPN app, with plans to launch on X1 in the coming weeks. ESPN+ programming includes over 10,000 live sports events including exclusive UFC events, hundreds of MLB games, Golf (coverage from PGA Tour, The Masters and PGA Championship), an incredible lineup of international and domestic soccer (including the FA Cup, Bundesliga, Serie A, MLS, Copa Del Rey and more), college sports from 20 conferences, boxing and much more. ESPN+ also features exclusive ESPN+ Originals and signature studio shows like “Stephen A’s World,” “SportsNation” and “Peyton’s Places” – plus exclusive access to the entire library of ESPN’s award-winning “30 for 30” documentary films and more.
X1 and Flex customers can access Disney+ or ESPN+ by saying “Disney+” or “ESPN+” into the Xfinity Voice Remote or by saying the name of a desired title from one of the streaming services (like, “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” or “Stephen A’s World”). Xfinity customers will also be able to find the Disney+ and ESPN+ content libraries integrated throughout their user experience, including in collections such as “TV,” Movies,” “Sports” and more.
“With the launch of Disney+ and ESPN+, our X1 and Flex customers will now be able to enjoy all the best entertainment from today’s most popular streaming services on one device that makes it easy for them to find their favorite programming, or discover something new,” said Rebecca Heap, Senior Vice President, Video and Entertainment, Comcast Cable.
“The launch of Disney+ and ESPN+ on Comcast’s Xfinity platforms comes at an opportune time with the new Disney+ Original series from Marvel Studios ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’ in full swing, the return of Coach Gordon Bombay in a new series ‘The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers,’ and “Secrets of the Whales” from National Geographic premiering on Earth Day. It will be a big April on ESPN+ too with UFC 261, the start of MLB and MLS seasons, The Masters, and more,” said Michael Paull, President, Disney+ and ESPN+.
Disney+ and ESPN+ join a growing collection of streaming services available over the Internet on X1 and Flex including Peacock, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Paramount+, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube, Vudu and Pandora, amongst many more.
Xfinity delivers all the best entertainment to customers via its X1 and Flex devices and through its leading Xfinity Internet service. X1 provides the most comprehensive library of entertainment on one platform with thousands of choices – aggregating live TV, On Demand, and all the best apps. Xfinity Flex is a 4K streaming device included with Xfinity Internet that extends the best features of X1 to customers who prefer a streaming experience, with all the favorite video and music apps, as well as the ability to manage Xfinity WiFi, mobile, security and automation services – all controllable with the award-winning Xfinity Voice Remote.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company that connects people to moments that matter. We are principally focused on broadband, aggregation, and streaming with over 56 million customer relationships across the United States and Europe. We deliver broadband, wireless, and video through our Xfinity, Comcast Business, and Sky brands; create, distribute, and stream leading entertainment, sports, and news through Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Universal Studio Group, Sky Studios, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, multiple cable networks, Peacock, NBCUniversal News Group, NBC Sports, Sky News, and Sky Sports; and provide memorable experiences at Universal Parks and Resorts in the United States and Asia. Visit http://www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.
About The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise that includes Disney Parks, Experiences and Products; Media & Entertainment Distribution; and three content groups—Studios, General Entertainment and Sports—focused on developing and producing content for DTC, theatrical and linear platforms. Disney is a Dow 30 company and had annual revenues of $65.4 billion in its Fiscal Year 2020.
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STATE OF CONNECTICUT
PUBLIC UTILITIES REGULATORY AUTHORITY
Last Revised July 20, 2020
PURA Cable Sector Regulation Information
Who regulates cable rates?
Under state and federal law, PURA is unable to regulate cable rates.
Does PURA regulate satellite providers of television service?
PURA does not have jurisdiction over satellite providers of television service. Although the Authority does not have jurisdiction, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection may be able to assist you with unresolved complaints involving satellite providers of television service. You may write to Consumer Protection at the following address:
Department of Consumer Protection
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Customer Complaints Related to Cable Service
Who should I contact about a cable company related complaint?
You should always contact your cable company first when you have a complaint. In many cases, the customer service representatives at your cable company will be able to assist you and solve your problem. The telephone number for your cable company should be on your cable bill.
Your cable company has jurisdiction over the following issues:
Programming carried on the system. With the exception of rules that require cable systems to carry certain local broadcast stations, cable systems decide which programming services to carry. Therefore, you should contact your cable system if it has dropped a particular channel.
Carriage of FM and AM radio stations.
Charges for pay-per-view or pay-per-channel programming. The rates charged for this type of programming are not regulated.
Questions or complaints handled by the Authority include:
Customer service problems, including billing disputes, office hours, telephone availability of personnel, installations, outages and service calls.
Signal quality, including interference and reception difficulties.
Use of public, educational, and governmental (PEG) channels. These channels may be required as part of the franchise agreement. Your local franchise authority can provide information on any terms or conditions of use.
You should contact the FCC if you have complaints or questions about the following issues:
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints. Contact the FCC, Media Bureau, Policy Division, EEO Branch, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.
Signal leakage from cable systems, which can result in interference to other users of the spectrum, including aeronautical services. Contact 1-888-225-5322 or send your inquiry to FCC, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.
Cable home wiring questions. If you believe that your cable company has violated the rules governing your ability to access and to use cable home wiring, please send a letter outlining the facts to the FCC, Media Bureau, Policy Division, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.
Commercial limits for childrens’ programming. Write to the FCC, Enforcement Bureau, Investigations & Hearings Division, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.
Indecency and obscenity. Generally, the rules concerning the content of programming on cable channels are not as strict as the rules concerning programming content on non-cable channels. If you object to programming on a cable system, you may contact the FCC to determine what rules may be applicable and what action may be appropriate. Call 1-888-225-5322 or send your inquiry to FCC, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.
You can contact the FCC for assistance in understanding cable regulations at the following telephone numbers and addresses:
Written communications: Federal Communications Commission, General Cable Inquiries, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554;
Telephone assistance: 1-888-225-5322 to have fact sheets describing various aspects of cable regulations sent to you or to ask questions; or
You can access recent Commission decisions regarding cable regulations via the Commission’s Internet site, www.fcc.gov.
Cable Service Rates Information
My monthly bill shows charges for various fees. What are these?
There are two types of fees that cable operators may be required to pay, although both of these fees are typically referred to as franchise fees. The first type of fee is a regulatory fee, and the second type of fee is a negotiated fee. Cable operators are allowed to be reimbursed for both types of fees by recovering the costs from subscribers.
Regulatory Fees: Connecticut does not impose a license fee, but does impose other costs, as listed below.
FCC Fee: The Federal Communications Commission requires payment from the cable operator on an annual basis to offset the cost of federal regulation. Depending on your cable operator, this fee may be called an “FCC Fee,” “FCC Mandated Fee,” or “Regulatory Fee.”
Negotiated Fees/Franchise Fees: Under federal law, non-capital costs relating to license requirements are considered franchise fees and may be passed onto subscribers. For example, cable operators are required to set aside channels for public, educational, and governmental (“PEG”) use. The monies spent to maintain the PEG access studio, equipment, and personnel are considered franchise fees and may be passed on to subscribers. Fees vary based on franchise area. These fees appear on monthly bills as “Franchise Fees,” “Franchise Costs” or “Access Fees.”
Gross Earnings Tax: The history of the gross earnings tax dates back to 1965. At that time, the existing gross earnings tax in Connecticut General Statutes (Conn. Gen. Stat.) §12-258 was revised by the Legislature to add cable television systems at a rate of six percent. In 1971, the rate was changed to eight percent. Public Act 81-255 increased the rate again to nine percent. Finally, Public Act 89-251 reduced the rate to the current five percent.
Cable television systems itemize the gross earnings tax, sometimes identified as the franchise fee, on the monthly cable bills. This is confusing to many subscribers. They believe they are being taxed incorrectly because the sales tax is computed on the total bill, including the gross earnings tax. However, we have been advised by the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) that this treatment is correct.
DRS states that the gross earnings tax is a tax on the company, like the federal income tax or state property tax. As such it is an expense of the company. According to Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-407(8), the “Sales Price” of a company’s product or service, upon which sales tax is computed, includes “the cost of materials used, labor or service cost, interest charged, losses or other expenses.” Although cable television systems have chosen to treat this one expense differently by identifying it separately on your bill, the gross earnings tax is, by statutory definition, a part of the sales price and, therefore subject to sales tax.
If you have further questions, DRS’s Taxpayer Service Division may be reached by phone toll-free at 1-800-382-9463.
Is the cable operator allowed to charge sales tax?
Yes. Cable operators may charge subscribers a Connecticut sales tax for the lease of remote controls. The tax must be itemized separately on your bill.
Cable Billing Information
Is my cable company allowed to bill me in advance?
Yes, Connecticut regulations allow cable operators to bill subscribers up to two months in advance. However, most cable operators providing service in Connecticut only require payment for one month in advance.
When is payment for my cable bill due?
Connecticut regulations require cable operators to include a specific due date on subscribers’ bills. The due date must be at least five business days from the date the bill was mailed. Your bill should be paid by the specified due date.
When is my account considered delinquent for non-payment?
A subscriber’s account can be considered delinquent if payment has not been received by the cable operator thirty days after the due date shown on the subscriber’s bill.
Is my cable operator allowed to charge me a late fee?
Yes, but only after the following conditions are met: (1) a subscriber’s account must be considered delinquent, meaning payment has not been received within thirty days from the bill due date; (2) the cable operator must provide the subscriber a written late charge notice; and (3) the subscriber must be given eight days from the date the amount becomes delinquent to pay the balance due. If an account meets these conditions, cable operators are allowed to charge up to five percent on the balance due in the form of a one-time late fee. A late fee cannot be imposed on any charge that is in dispute while the complaint mechanism outlined below is being followed.
Is my cable operator allowed to disconnect my service for non-payment?
Cable operators are allowed to disconnect cable service for non-payment under the following conditions: (1) a subscriber’s account must be considered delinquent; (2) the cable operator must give the subscriber written termination notice; and (3) the subscriber must be given at least eight business days from the mailing date of the termination notice to pay the balance due.
What can I do if I disagree with a charge on my cable bill?
Subscribers who disagree with a charge on their cable bill should contact the cable operator as outlined below:
Subscribers should immediately contact the cable operator to file a billing complaint. Under Connecticut regulations, the cable operator must be contacted within thirty days from the due date shown on the subscribers’ bill. The cable operator is required to investigate and respond with a decision within thirty business days of receipt of a billing complaint.
Establishing Cable Service
What information should I receive before I subscribe to cable television? Connecticut regulations require cable operators, upon request, to give potential subscribers written notice of their services, rates, charges, and billing practices before a subscription agreement is reached. The billing practices notice should include the cable operator’s policies regarding frequency and timing of bills, payment requirements necessary to avoid account delinquency, billing dispute resolution procedures, and late payment penalties.
Cable Programming Information
Why does programming differ from community to community? Under federal law, cable operators are allowed to select the programming they want to carry and to package that programming in a manner they determine is best. Cable operators consider a number of factors when deciding how to package their programming. Legal, technical, financial, and demographic factors can influence the cable operator’s decision to carry certain channels. For example, federal regulations require cable operators to include certain over-the-air broadcast channels along with other local channels on the basic service tier.
Are cable operators required to carry local broadcast programming?
Yes, but this is subject to negotiation between the cable operators and broadcasters. Federal law provides broadcasters the option of either requiring a cable operator serving the relevant market to carry its station (“must-carry”), or requesting compensation from the cable operator for the right to carry the broadcaster’s station (“retransmission consent”). Many larger broadcasters choose retransmission consent, and the resultant compensation from cable operators is often passed through to subscribers in the form of a “Broadcast TV Fee” or similar charge. Many smaller broadcasters choose to invoke their must-carry rights.
10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051
An Equal Opportunity Employer
CTAC Meeting Minutes April 7, 2021 – ZOOM TELECONFERENCE
(due to virus pandemic)
Yvonne Manning-Jones – (New Haven) – Advisor – Temporary Chairperson
Laurel Coleman (Hamden) Advisor
George Alexander (Hamden) Treasurer
Tom Costa (New Haven Library System)
Johnes Ruta – (New Haven) – Acting Secretary
Sharon Codeane – Comcast Represntative – not in attendance
Joe Schofield – CTV Represntative – not in attendance.
- Call to order 6:05pm. Teleconference members on Zoom.2. March Minutes
Changes requested – Laurel – none; Yvonne – none.
3. Old Business
a. CTAC Facebook page: Yvonne states there have been no changes.
b. Laurel has sent an email to Andrew at CTV requesting CTV to post CTAC request for new members from underrepresented towns, especially West Haven, which currently
has no representative on CTAC.
Laurel asked if the Council was ready to move to the agenda item dealing with consumers. (The discussion proceeded.) She mentioned Ms. Fern Coleman contacted her (Laurel) to see if there was assistance available to reduce her Comcast bill since she (Fern) was unemployed. Fern indicated that a Comcast representative stated that she needed to contact the Unemployment office to obtain a coupon to present to Comcast. Fern contacted the Unemployment Office, and a representative stated they were not familiar with any coupon type program. (Fern is a Comcast customer, and her contract has expired.)
George indicated that the only program he was aware of was the Internet Essentials Program, that Sharon had shared with the Council in the past. Laurel said that, she wanted to have this matter followed up, and wanted to follow protocol which has been used in the past with such consumer inquires and complaints. The protocol has been to provide the Chair (Peaches) with the inquiry or complaint, and she inquires with the provider (Comcast). Laurel indicated she would contact Peaches to pass Fern Coleman’s inquiry onto to Comcast.
4. Treasurer’s Report
- George reports “no change in status;” no expenditures.b. CTAC Annual Report to be filed; this will be done via online Form supplied with
Johnes makes a Motion to accept George’s report, Tom Costa seconds this Motion. Carried.
- 5. New Business
Laurel states that there have been numerous complaints to Comcast about their
“unjustified” rate increases during the pandemic, + $10 in February 2020 and and
additional $10 in January 2021.b. George mentions the New Haven Independent report: “Comcast boondagle in attempts
to set up a city-wide WiFi internet that estimates will cost $1 Million !”
7:02 pm, Johnes makes Motion to Adjourn. Yvonne seconds. Agreed.
Next CTAC Meeting: Wednesday, May 5, 2021, 6:00pm, via Zoom.
April 7th Meeting Minutes respectfully submitted by Johnes Ruta, (New Haven) Acting Secretary.
Emergency Broadband Benefit
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and so much more.
“We need to use all available tools to get 100% of us connected in this country and this program is an essential part of making that happen.” Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel
The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.
Who Is Eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?
A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
- Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
When Can I Sign Up for the Benefit?
As of May 12, 2021, eligible households will be able to enroll in the program to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider. Eligible households can enroll through an approved provider or by visiting https://getemergencybroadband.org.
Check out the Broadband Benefit Consumer FAQ for more information about the benefit and please continue to check this page for program updates.
Which Broadband Providers Are Participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit?
Various broadband providers, including those offering landline and wireless broadband, are participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit. Find broadband service providers offering the Emergency Broadband Benefit in your state or territory.
Broadband providers can find more information about how to participate here.