Your Help Needed with New Comcast Contract: PSB Public Hearing on 10/21

September 27, 2015

Comcast's contract to provide cable services to Vermont expires in 2016. In order to renew the Certificate of Public Good (CPG), the Company must show both the Department of Public Service (DPS) and the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) that they are meeting community communications needs and providing high quality customer and technical service.

On 10/21 the Vermont Public Service Board wants to know what you think about:

  • The renewal of the Comcast Certificate of Public Good (CPG)

  • Communication needs within your community

  • How those needs are currently being met by PEG groups and Comcast

  • Ways your communication needs could be better met

  • Additional services through local PEG access channels that you may or may not be currently using

Speak Out for Public Access!
Public Service Board Public Hearing on VIT/Williston on 10/21 from 7 - 9 p.m.

This is your opportunity to speak on the record to help make sure that we get the best possible CPG from Comcast and improve public access TV services.

You can help by attending on 10/21 and preparing short testimony that answers these questions:

1.  How does your organization use your local public access channel?

  • Your experience as a participant, viewer, or producer
  • Your goals met: outreach, governmental transparency, training, nonprofit support, free speech
  • When you think about the other local television options in the area, what stands out as unique about your local access channels?

2.  What communication/education needs do you have that are not being met, but could be, by your local public access channel? Think broadly and creatively!

  • Are there other local events, public meetings, educational activities such as classes or sports, that you'd like to see covered?
  • Community media training for your colleagues, students, activists?
  • Regional efforts that can be served by live coverage, statewide sharing?
  • Ways you'd like to view or share programming, for example: would a mobile app be helpful?

3.  What changes would you like to see made by Channel 17 or other local access channels?

  • Channels offered in High Definition as well as Standard Definition (like every other channel on the cable line up)
  • Be able to search and DVR local programs using the interactive cable guide (like every other channel on the cable line up)
    Note: These are two key issues we are trying to negotiate with Comcast with limited success.
  • To be part of a statewide network that shares and airs live programming (such as State House Coverage, public events, etc.)

4.  What Comcast business practices, related to their cable TV service, have been successful?

  • Comcast provides a robust modern telecommunications network to 85% of Vermont cable subscribers
  • Xfinity offers state-of-the-arts broadband services to Vermonters
  • Quality of customer service

5.  What changes could Comcast make to provide better service and best meet the needs of your organization?

  • Many people can't get cable where they live and don't have access to local programs -- Comcast should complete line extensions.
  • Local PEG channels are not available in High Definition, local programs are not individually listed on Comcast's cable guide, and you can’t navigate programming with your TV remote. (Comcast has already done this in Lexington, MA, and Portland, OR. Why can’t it be done in Vermont?)
  • Provide funding support to move to all-HD transmission for local access channels.
  • Provide faster internet speeds throughout the service territory so all residents can benefit from local programming online. (This is not a cable issue per se but worth mentioning if you think it is important).
  • Add additional comments regarding Comcast’s services

    If you cannot attend the Public Hearing, there will be additional opportunities to provide feedback. Just send your comments to: The Clerk of the Public Service Board at 112 State Street, Montpelier, VT, 05620, re: Docket 8301.

    Thanks in advance for helping to ensure that we get the best possible CPG from Comcast and improve public access TV services!

    On behalf of the Board and Staff of Channel 17/ Town Meeting Television,

    Lauren-Glenn Davitian

    davitian '@'