The Cable Advisory Committee ("CAC") was established to act on behalf of the Board of Selectmen to negotiate the renewal of the license to operate Bolton's cable television franchise with Comcast (formerly known as AT&T Broadband). The current license expires in March, 2004. The new license is expected to be ratified in April.
Key goals of the committee include negotiating improved customer service standards, expanded local public service channels, and the connection of public buildings and schools, etc.
An example of the improvements sought is the provision of local Bolton channels for public, education and government ("PEG") broadcasts. Currently, Bolton has access only to a single shared PEG channel. The CAC has found that once dedicated PEG channels are available, the broadcast of local educational and governmental affairs becomes valuable and popular to local subscribers.
Your Input was Beneficial!
Since input from local residents was vital and required for the negotiation process, we solicited and received your feedback. This as done via an online feedback form on this site and a public hearing held on May 22nd, 2003 at 7:30 p.m., at Town Hall.
What the Town has been negotiating
Some of the items that the CAC has been negotiating are below:
l Up to three channels for local access programming including live events, town affairs, or productions by residents. We currently share a single channel (#8) with our neighboring town of Clinton.
l More equipment and funding to assist in production and broadcasting of Bolton events and other programs of interest -- e.g., the NASA channel.
l Improve and enforce customer service standards.
l Nashoba Regional School District connections between the three towns for TV viewing of District events and communicating District business
l Cable connection availability to any current or future building in the town for those who want it.
l Penalty clauses with fees for each day Comcast fails to comply with certain license mandates.
What we could NOT negotiate
Under current telecommunications law, cable telephone and cable Internet services cannot be covered under the cable licensing agreement. However, some aspects of these services may be negotiated on a "good faith basis", meaning they cannot be enforced through law.
>Cable phone services
>Any non-cable services (e.g., phone, cellular)
>Commercial television programming (FYI: the bundled sale of channels, which prevents individual selection, is said to be imposed on the cable industry by the program vendors.)
>Pricing. (One of cable companies’ biggest costs is programming. Ten-percent annual increases a year have been reported)
>Competition, other than satellite, is unavailable. Small towns that have tried to get a rival cable or DSL company have been unable to interest a second company to make the large investment required in a rural area to gain only a piece of a small market. A few larger towns have built their own cable system. Although large towns have been able to undertake such a massive project, they normally are less rural and are able to use the pole-work expertise and manpower of their own municipal power company. Then they often face under-pricing from an incumbent cable company, which they can match only at a loss.
We expect to complete the new contract with Comcast in April, 2004.