CARMEL, N.Y. - The town and its Cable Television Advisory Committee (CTAC) are in the process of negotiating a new contract with Comcast and are seeking input from subscribers as to what they would like to see included in a new agreement slated to be in place by January 2019.
Frank Monaco, chair of the CTAC, said the committee’s mission is to provide advice on negotiations with cable providers and the franchise agreements and the terms and conditions. He noted that the town gets a percentage of the revenue garnered by the contract. The town’s other cable/internet provider is Fios; its contract is not up for renewal for several more years.
“The Comcast contract ends in January 2019. So, we started a few months ago meeting with the town attorney and with a Comcast representative who came and spoke with the committee,” Monaco said. “Now, we want input from customers.”
Monaco said his committee’s purview does not include broadband internet or phone service, which are often part of the bundled services that providers include with their cable TV packages.
Here are some of the issues being discussed:
• Bring back a presence in town for customer service. (Comcast moved its Carmel office to Danbury several years ago.) “Do we want a presence here in Carmel? There is nothing here anymore,” Monaco said.
• Promote the local Comcast public-access TV studio via local publications and invite the public to view the studio to learn about the free training and production opportunities. “A lot of people don’t realize you can go in there and make a broadcast,” he said. “We want to get the word out and want Comcast to support it and improve it. It’s been slacking off lately. They used to provide full-time staff and trained people. Now, it’s part-time. We are trying to get that back into the franchise agreement. They say that with things like Facebook Live you don’t need it as much, but going into the studio is a more professional product.”
• Improve the supervision and training of contracted studio coordinators or employ coordinators as is the practice of the majority of Comcast public access studios and was the practice at the Carmel studio until 2016
• Consider senior citizen, veteran and military discounts on cable prices
• Coordinate better with NYSEG and other utilities for removal of damaged transmission facilities
Monaco said that subscriber services such as Netflix and Hulu are gaining in popularity and cable TV providers know their product is losing ground, which, he said, gives his committee some leverage in negotiations.
“They understand the writing on the wall with Internet and paid subscriptions and people don’t use cable as much,” he said. “It gives us leverage. They want to keep cable as part of it and we do too—the town would lose out on the revenue of the percentage they collect.”
Those who have any input for the Cable Television Advisory Committee during the Comcast franchise agreement talks and the recommendations it should make to the Town Board (on cable TV only) can email them to carmelTelevisionAdvisory@gmail.com.
Besides Monaco, the advisory committee includes Armanda Famiglietti, Gordon Lee Updegraff and Robert J. Schanil.