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 Comcast.com (or Comcast.net—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 Comcast.com.

Meeting adjourned 7:00 p.m