Comcast, Stop Bullying VT and Squandering Rate Payer Dollars
Dear Comcast: Don’t Bully Vermont! Stop Squandering Cable Rate Payer Money!
Comcast Cable earns a tremendous profit in Vermont each year. More than $50 million in 2015. Yet the largest cable company in the U.S. would rather spend thousands in legal bills than pay for the modernization of Vermont’s local public, educational and government access channels.
More than 75 of these channels are run in communities across the state and provide election coverage, live high school sports events, selectboard meetings and youth media opportunities. These busy hives of local media gives power to the people and helps knit together our beloved state.
That’s why it matters that Comcast is isolating Vermont with substandard technology. Comcast says that subscribers don’t want to pay extra for good quality (HD) access channels and that the interactive program guide is off limits to Vermont communities. Oddly enough, Comcast has agreed to provide all of these features in cities across the country, including Philadelphia and Seattle.
But when it comes to subscriber pocket books, Comcast is making a clear choice. Instead of complying with the Vermont Public Utility Commission and honoring their cable contracts or the next 11 years, Comcast is burning rate payer dollars to fight their own communities and state regulators.
In late July, the Vermont PUC told Comcast yet again to comply with their contracts. The Company may be headed to federal court. This case has already cost Vermont’s access centers $100,000 and will cost another $100,000 to defend in federal court--not to mention what Comcast has and will pay its high price law firms. All to advance the argument that Vermont should not have modern cable access features like its other territories.
In particular Comcast needs to:
- Accept the Public Utility Commission’s ruling and not pursue this argument to federal court, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
- Provide Vermont with the modern public access features found in Comcast cities across the country, including HD, interactive program guide, network access, and line extensions.
- Upgrade their Interactive Program Guide to include program information about all programs airing on more than 70 public, educational and governmental access channels across Vermont.
- Make their cable network available for Vermont communities to watch live statewide events and share programs with each other.
- Expand (not fewer) community drops available for live community events and work in inventive ways to make that happen.
- Upgrade Comcast’s access channels to HD as soon as possible.
- Extend lines to communities that will benefit from cable and broadband connections, as required by the Vermont Public Utility Commission.
It’s time to tell Comcast to stop bullying Vermont and burning cable subscriber dollars. If you want to take action, you can join our petition campaign with VPIRG today at http://bit.ly/2xsY3RM
President, Vermont Access Network