CABLE TELEVISION ADVISORY BOARD
JUNE 13, 2008
A meeting of the Cable Television Advisory Board was held Friday,
June 13, 2008 at 8:36 a.m. in the Aldermanic Chamber.
Members of Committee present: Andrew Cernota
Paul Johnson, Citizen Representative
Dennis Ryder, Citizen Representative
Brian Morrissey, Fire Chief
Alderman-at-Large Brian McCarthy
Members of the Committee absent: Rick Farrenkopf
Dorothy Clarke, Esquire
Also present: Jeff Poehnert
The first item on the agenda is the acceptance of CTAB minutes from May of 2008, but
the May meeting actually didn’t officially happen, so this was April.
MOTION BY MIRIAN SWANSON TO ACCEPT AND PLACE ON FILE THE MINUTES
OF APRIL, 2008
MOTION SECONDED BY BRIAN MORRISSEY
At the time we put the agenda together there weren’t any, but this morning we received
a memo from Mayor Lozeau regarding complaints that have been made with regard to
the switch of EWTN channel to digital. This is actually going to be an agenda item
further down on our agenda. Is there any motion regarding the correspondence? I can
pass it around.
MOTION BY PAUL JOHNSON TO ACCEPT AND PLACE ON FILE THE MEMO FROM
MAYOR LOZEAU RELATIVE TO THE SWITCH OF EWTN CHANNEL TO DIGITAL
Our current balance of the operating account 6013 is $41,591.11. Current balance of
the capital equipment fund, which is the 6012 account, is $82,749.73. Our expenses for
May of 2008, including salaries, totaled $12,562.74.
Our purchases in May were the wireless intercom system that we presented at the last
meeting at a cost of $866.50.
The broadcast schedule for both 16 and 99 are now available on the city’s web site, and
all audio minutes of CTAB meetings are up to date, all agendas from December 2007 to
the present, and the meeting minutes for the E Channel Committee have also been
posted on the web site. Last month we had 115 cablecasts in total. Eighteen were live,
and 97 were playbacks from the variable 2 servers from channel 16 to channel 99.
On the technical problems, it’s been the continuing problem has been with this Aavelin
composure, which is the broadcast bulletin board that we put up the slides. This past
week we have moved that from the Spit Brook Fire Department and is now here in City
Hall. It’s being upgraded today, and it’s in line with the replay server. So what this
allows us to do now in the interim while we go for the full blown automation system, this
will allow us to replay basically any time we want. What I can do now is I can play a
meeting say from last night through the Aavelin composure slide show. Just stop the
slide show and play the replay and then go back to the slide show, which we did not
have that capability before while it was sitting at Spit Brook. We actually had to override
the Spit Brook signal in order to start playing a replay. So it just makes it a lot more
efficient and we can do more now. It’s just a step up from where we were. Then when
the new automation system comes, that (inaudible) will be solved with that between
bulletin boards, replays, and live meetings.
We’re finishing our inventory as of June 20th. We basically know everything we have
now and we’re just putting it into the proper format for inventory. The servers are
running reliably. The system design. Now after a thorough view of the 2 bids, including
the follow up questions and answers from both plus a site visit that we did with an HB
type of automation installation, we’re recommending an HB Communications be
awarded the automation system contract. I’ve included a memo in today’s package
showing in detail why we made that decision.
The PEG facility. We will be submitting the design build RFQ for Riverside the first thing
EDUCATION CHANNEL REPORT
Channel 99 one of the big things that’s going on tomorrow, we’ll be taping graduation
ceremonies for the South High School at the Tsongas Area in Lowell. That will be one
our studio in a box deals with 3 cameras and sort of a split crew between some of our
videographers from here as well as getting some students involved from the South High
School along with their advisor Jim Pfeiffer. The Nashua School District has gone to the
Verizon area. Due to the timing that they have tomorrow, South High School is going to
be at noon at Tsongas Area, and the North High School is graduating at the Verizon
Arena in Manchester at 6 o’clock. So there was going to be no way that we would be
able to tear down, get out of Lowell, up to Manchester, and set up. So the Verizon
Arena was the only one that had video support and like last year, they’re contracting with
them to get a video of the North graduation, which we will get a copy of to be able to air
at a later date.
The E Channel Committee earlier this week approved the airing of 3 series that are
produced outside the area. First is education news you can use with a program geared
toward parents of students to give them information to help them guide their children
through the public education system. It’s produced by the US Department of Education
and that’s a monthly program that will be starting in September. The second and third
programs are produced in state by Dartmouth Hitchcock. One of them is a general
medical series called “The Doctor is In”. This is run in many other communities in the
State of New Hampshire as well as a few public broadcasting stations in the New
England area. The second will be one called “Cancer Story” and that is a program that
sort of follows somebody who’s told they’ve got cancer, the decisions they make with the
doctors on how to proceed with treatment, and how it affects family and such. It’s a very
good series on informing people on what happens when you get cancer. They are both
very well produced. They are produced out of Hanover, but they do a very good job.
We’ll be starting those – actually The Doctor is In started last week and we’ll be running
the Cancer Story as well over the summer months leading up to the start of school.
During May, Channel 99 provided residents with over 90 hours of local programming
including replays. That concludes my report.
Yes, I’m glad to hear that you’re starting to get some additional content that you just
reported from Dartmouth Hitchcock and other sources. Just wondering if those are
shooted on DVD or from satellite, and do we have satellite capability?
We do not have satellite capability. Those are provided on DVD. More often a lot of
these are available via the mail. More and more we’re seeing that there are ways to get
these electronically, at least there’s an initiative going on right now with the Alliance for
Community Media, which is putting together a system where you’ll be able to download
content overnight whatever you like. We can also (inaudible) content there if there’s
anything we produce that we think other communities would be interested in sharing. So
those are the types of things we’re looking at. We have looked at Hanna burg. Hanna
burg is shutting down their satellite (inaudible) service as of the end of this year.
One other question regarding the graduation. Will the City be offering for sale
That has been traditionally handled through the schools. From what I understand North
has never put their graduation for sale. They’ve never put a real emphasis on that. The
South puts together a nice piece with other video they’ve done throughout the school
year, and they do sell that through the high school. It’s nothing that we’ll be offering.
Both of those will also be available, not our tape, but I believe Channel 13 is going to be
at both graduations as well. So they will provide coverage on their channel also.
Any question regarding either Mr. Poehnert’s financial statements or the PEG Manager’s
I show that we’re going to have instruction on the memo that was provided?
Yes. We’ll address that next if it’s all right.
MOTION TO ACCEPT AND PLACE ON RECORD THE FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
AND PEG MANAGER’S REPORT
I apologize for the late hour last night and having this come out of this busy day and it
didn’t get out until very late. I’m sorry.
We put out the RFP for the cable TV server and automation system for the community
television. We had 2 vendors that submitted proposals by the deadline, May 15th. One
was HB Communications and the other one was Valley Communications. At the time of
submittal, HB had a very comprehensive submittal, and Valley Communications was
fairly sparse. But we’ve reviewed the different proposals and we went out and we asked
additional questions of each one of the vendors. HB (inaudible) immediate came back
and answered all the questions, and we got no response from Valley. So I ended up the
next week talking to them and asking – and it was still they didn’t come back with the
answers. One of the other reasons for HB is that Valley is in Chicopee and there would
be a lot of travel back and forth whereas HB is in Waltham. Both vendors have excellent
reputations but we found that through references, we did a site visit that HB fits the bill
better than Valley. So that’s why we chose them.
I’d like to understand that better. We’re proposing to choose someone who is not the
low bidder. The memo says they’re both qualified to do it. You’ve not convinced me
there’s a reason to spend 10 percent more money.
Well I mean from my standpoint in trying to get answers from both vendors to
understand exactly their understanding of what we needed and all that, it was very hard
to communicate with one of them, and it was very easy to communicate with the other.
One of the things at that time – his time was then if it’s that hard before, I’m afraid that
once we get into this and we have a hard time.
When you called references did they indicate that in the end the systems that were
installed by Valley worked and met…
Yes they did. There was not corresponsive problems from Valley. It was really up front
with us how they responded to us and our inquiries as compared to HB. Honestly yes
both references checked out that they did the job well for the jobs that they did.
If you don’t mind I’ll chime in. One of the things that HB has put in a number of these
tightrope systems. It’s a relatively new product for Valley Communications, and the
tightrope systems that they install tend to be of a very different nature. Tightrope
produces products for cable TV industry as well as what they consider digital signage.
So if you’re going into a supermarket or a hospital or something and you see a bulletin
board that runs all day long, that’s considered a digital signage system. They do a
number of digital signage systems. They have not done very many at all. This may be
their first from what I understand – a system where they’re integrating it into a cable TV.
So its sort of a little branch off for them. It’s a little bit of a different take on what they
normally work with. They usually put in sound systems in buildings like this. They don’t
work often with the television aspect of things. That’s one of the other problems that we
had with Valley Communications.
Are there any other questions?
I believe that Mr. Barker was unable to be here today, but if you want answered another
questions – he was involved with either discussions and can probably get back to
anybody who’s interested.
But it’s your understanding that Mr. Barker agrees…
He concurs with this recommendation yes.
So you would say there’s enough added value that you get through HB that’s worth the
Yes. And also HB has worked with the City on many other projects. So there’s a
familiarity and a comfort level there that the departments have already worked with
I guess I’d like to get more detail because I still haven’t heard anything that would
convince me not to go with the low bidder.
I don’t think we’re asking for any recommendations specifically today and if you’d like to
speak with Director Barker, I’m sure he’d one to get out early next week.
There’s no requirement for a recommendation from CTAB at this time, we’ll address this
again at the next meeting. We’ll move on to the next agenda item then.
Mr. Lecius, we already heard from Mr. Johnson about the education channel, but if
there’s anything you’d like to add?
I’d just like to say that in the short time that Mr. Johnson’s been on board, I think that he
has done a very good job of moving the Channel 99 process forward. I know that the
school department is very pleased with what he has been able to do. As I read the
minutes of the previous meeting, there has been a very concerted effort not only by Mr.
Johnson but by me prior to his coming on board and by Ms. Hines to reach out to the
other schools, both middle, elementary, secondary, and post secondary in the area, and
they’re coming but not as fast as we would like to see them come. I know that Rivier
College is in the process of getting some tape to Mr. Johnson, and their graduation, and
some other programs they’ve got going. I know that Ms. Wagner at Bishop Guertin has
been working with the staff over there to get some programming. So we have and we
continue to reach out to the other educational institutions here in the City and hope to
incorporate some of their programs sooner rather than later. I just want to compliment
Mr. Johnson on the job that he’s done in the very short period of time to increase the
hours of material that is airing on Channel 99. With the arrival of the new server, and
experience, and the teacher’s contract settled, we’re really looking forward to a very
exciting fall line up of programming there. Thank you.
I’d like to confirm what he has just said and support Ed’s remarks. I spoke recently with
Stacey Hines and as he said, Ms. Hines was very pleased and they are just expecting to
do more and more. I know how hard Pete’s been working. I happened to attend the
education committee meeting this week, and I’m impressed with what I saw and heard.
If there’s nothing else, we’ll move on to federal, state and industry subcommittee.
Federal, state and industry subcommittee
The only topic of interest this month is being addressed on the agenda digital migration.
Then if there’s nothing else to add to that, then we’ll move on the new business, which
actually is the point that – actually we did but it was very short. It was part of the report.
If you had questions we can go back.
Discussion concerning the digital migration
First item in new business is discussion concerning the digital migration. In particular,
concerns have been raised with regard to EWTN and other channel migration. As many
of you know and was pointed out in the Mayor’s memo this morning, there was a recent
Letter to the Editor which brought people’s attention to the fact that internal word
television network, the Catholic cablecast station that has been on Comcast is about to
be migrated to the digital service that they provide. We’ve encountered this issue before
with other channels. This is one that’s hitting home with a lot of people because of the
(inaudible) aspect of the service that’s being provided. There have been a number of
calls to the Mayor’s office since the Letter to the Editor indicated that that was the point
of contact for this.
Again going back to our previous discussion, we don’t have a lot of influence in this other
than as an opportunity to perhaps lecture Comcast. I did want to bring this up as a point
again. If there is any discussion?
I would like to chime on this please. I, too, am very upset with the – our latest Comcast
bill which has some channels that we like that’s being pulled, particularly MSNBC, which
is the channel that covers kind of the counter balance of FOX news, which is a very
republican channel. It’s more of a democratic (inaudible) coverage channel. I know that
people would be screaming if FOX news were pulled to a fee based tier with additional
costs. We felt (inaudible) MSNBC. I’ve done the math on our bill. We’re currently
paying for the extended basic cable of about $675 a year just to continue to watch
MSNBC on just our kitchen and our bedroom TVs, the 2 TVs I would watch that on,
would add almost $100 a year or $1,000 a decade to watch that channel now. That’s a
significant financial hit to watch a channel I watch every day. I certainly feel for the
people with the young BTN network because I do understand that most of them are on
fixed incomes. That really is a hard financial hit for those people. I find it unfortunate
that Comcast is referring complaints to the City by all accounts when Comcast pointed
out to us in bold print back when this came up earlier in the year that the City doesn’t
have any ability to influence cable lineup. So I don’t know if they’re trying to deflect calls
from their call center or for what the purposes of that is. But here we are.
Does anyone else have anything they’d like to add? If not, I see that our Comcast
representative is here. Perhaps if Mr. Christiansen would like to make a few comments.
This might be an opportune time.
Thank you members of the Board, Mr. Johnson for those pointed comments. Should I
address the whole gammet of issues? I read Mr. Poehnert’s memo. There is some
comments I had there. I’d like to address Mr. Johnson’s comments or should I take
them as they come?
Perhaps you can start us off and if there are questions we’ll jump in.
So EWTN, inspirational network, BCTV, and there was one other. They’re all on
Channel 56 in the Nashua lineup. EWTN was also on Channel 65 I believe. This is
actually a good news story. So EWTN, BCTV, I want to say there was 1 or 2 other
religious networks that actually shared one channel. So there were 4 or 5 different
religious networks sharing that one channel. So you could turn it on at 1 hour and it
could be EWTN. You could turn it on in another hour and it could be BCTV or MJT,
which is the national Jewish network or television. These are migrating to digital, which
is the white elephant in the room. Those channels are actually going to full time
channels. They’ll have 24/7 and 365 channel programming. In addition, they’re also
going to have access to on demand programming. Those networks have committed to
Comcast that they will provide us with on demand programming, which I think a lot of
you are familiar in the room, which you can watch programs when you desire and when
you want it. If you miss a particular service or mass or inspirational speech, you can go
and get that.
As it relates to the costs of those channels is yes they are moving from standard cable to
digital starter. As a result of that, and we realize people don’t want to pay more for less,
we’re giving a free box to any customer that asks for it so they can get those channels,
and their on demand, and they’re interactive programming guide, pay-per-view movie
access, 45 channels of free music. That’s all coming with that free digital box. If you
want more than 1 digital box, we’re cutting the price in half. So instead of the $3.95, it’s
$1.95 for the second or third box. We’re trying to please our customers. We realize it’s
a change and I think as I said when I was in here in January, the channel migrations are
unfortunately here. All of our competitors, DirectTV, Dish Network – if you live in
Massachusetts Verizon, and RCN, and I fully suspect their point all require a digital box
for every TV to get every single channel and Comcast is on it. As you know, there’s
about 70 channels you do not need a box for.
I just want to make sure I heard correctly. Can you please restate the free box and the
half price? Is that a permanent or a one-year?
Yes. That is an offer for 1 year, and then after that it goes to $3.95. It’s an effort to
transition to ease the transition.
So on my $800 a year, $900 a decade estimate, that would cut about $40 off of that.
Well you know we can talk about the value of cable if you’d like. It’s early morning. A lot
of us have coffees with us. You know those coffees are probably $2.99 a cup. I know a
lot of people that drink more than 1 cup of coffee. So if you’re spending $2 to $4 on a
cup of coffee a day, you’re spending another $1.80 on cable television per day. The
average American family watches 8 hours of cable television a day. We think it’s a good
value. We understand it costs, but everything in this world does cost. But we believe it’s
a good value. If you want to divide 8 hours by $1.80.
I don’t want to extend the debate on this, but I know that families are feeling pressured
with $4 a gallon gas from rising taxes from all over the place and for people to get a
teaser rate to get them into something that’s going to cost them for 2 TVs and extra $100
a year at today’s rates, that’s another $100 a year bill that will affect them for a long time.
I don’t take lightly as a member of this Board a suggestion that it’s like a cup of coffee.
It’s a significant increase for a few channels that they’re getting included now. It’s a
significant extra annual expense.
I’d like to point out this coffee amount analogy that we have the right to seek a cheaper
cup of coffee anywhere we wish. In this particular instance, we’re locked into the cable
system. It’s a monopoly. We don’t concede that they value that you perceive is
necessarily the same that we perceive. The value to you is more income. Where are
we getting value from this particular change? Where is it benefiting us to have a change
which is going to cost us more money? I don’t see it Sir.
So the question is whether or not that Comcast has a monopoly and whether or not
there’s value? I think value is a definitely a subjective term. As I think a lot of folks know,
the cable franchise and Comcast is not a monopoly. There is very, very, very, very real
competitors out there. I can drive down West Hollis Street and see 50 dishes on a
house before I get to the highway. There are alternatives. I’m not driving you to those
alternatives, but we compete in a competitive market and we make our decision based in
a competitive market.
I guess I’m – some of the analogies are with regard to cutting the prices in half for a
year. I suspect that if the gas companies came in and said we’ll drop the price of gas to
$3 a gallon for the next year, we wouldn’t be telling them that was a way to get people
get hooked on something they couldn’t afford. I guess the question I have is what is the
end motivation behind moving stuff to digital? You’ve done that a number of times,
which is freeing up analog channels. Are those being back filled with other programming
that is of more general appeal and therefore better for Comcast or is the bandwidth
being used for something else?
So the question is what we’re going to do with the space we freed up? So what
Comcast is doing with channel migrations is obviously freeing up bandwidth. The plan
when we free up this bandwidth is to launch more additional HV channels. By the end of
this year you’re going to see about 65 HV channels. We will be launching, I want to say,
5 to 6 maybe 7 additional HV channels in July. They haven’t been finalized, but they’re
pretty high in family value content channels.
I’m a little confused with that. There’s multiple places where the bandwidth gets used in
the network. Coming into that house, all the places where HD channels live are
elsewhere in the spectrum from the VHF, UHF, 1 through 125 cable numbers. So you
free up a piece of the spectrum that’s in a particular place, I’m not sure I understand how
that helps you gives us more HD services?
I’m not a spectrum expert. I’ve seen a wonderful slide on this and I don’t have it with
me. So essentially analog cable, channels 2 through 70 takes up about 70 to 75 percent
on our bandwidth. The other 30 to 25 percent of the bandwidth is reserved for digital
channels, HD channels, high speed internet, and phone service. So we’re packing a lot
of other stuff into that other 25 to 35 percent of the bandwidth. If you shrink this 70 to 75
percent of the bandwidth, it allows you to expand the other aspects which is the digital
side, i.e. the HD channels.
So basically and those HD channels are you charge a premium for relative to the
channels that are on the expanded basic?
The question is whether or not we charge a premium for the HD channels?
I think that’s a higher cost service.
The answer to the question is no. If you subscribe to the linear channel, if you subscribe
to ESPN you’ll get ESPN HD for no additional cost. If you subscribe to TBS, whatever
tier that’s in, you’ll get TBS in HD or NESN. Seeing it’s baseball season you’ll get that
free of charge.
Any other questions for Mr. Christiansen? Seeing none, we’ll move on to our next
agenda item. Alderman McCarthy this one actually relates to – I believe you had some
proposed legislation. I was hoping you could brief us on that.
The current strategy we have a couple of years ago attempted to delegate control over
the cable budget to this committee. That was premised on the fact that we didn’t have
full time staff that was doing the actual work out purchasing, etc., etc. It’s not entirely
clear that we even have the right as a municipal government to delegate that authority
that the Board and the Mayor have to retain control over the expenditures. So basically
my feeling was that in order to fix with that given that we now have full time staff and the
IT Department and that we have a mechanism for treating expenses for the P, E, and G
channels similar to with doing anything else. That what we ought to do is include the
cable TV budget as part of the budget. Basically have Mr. Barker with help from his staff
and with advice from this committee submit an annual budget the way everything else
does, and that that get approved and then be expended through the normal staff process
– through the Finance Committee and warrants, which would make us in line with the
way every other dollar gets spent in the City. That’s what the legislation proposed is.
Does anyone have any questions for Alderman McCarthy regarding that proposal?
I’m not quite sure I understood what Mr. McCarthy was actually saying. Is he explaining
something that’s going to go through the Board of Aldermen?
It has been submitted to the Board of Aldermen and had its first reading last Tuesday
Is it a past thing or are you revising the Policy and Procedures Manual?
We’re revising the ordinance that constitutes the cable television.
Has that happened Sir? You didn’t revise the ordinance? So this is an information?
It is a piece of legislation in front of the Board and it went to committee the other night.
So there’s nothing (inaudible) at this point?
I have a question of Alderman McCarthy. Would the gap impact our budget process at
Same way it does now. The appropriations that are made are part of the expenditures of
the City and therefore covered by the cap regardless of the source of revenue.
Any other questions? If there are none, thank you. We’ll move onto comments from the
public. I see there’s a few members…
Do you mind if we go back real quick to old business. I thought something had been put
on the agenda here, but it was not. I gave out some information last month on
purchasing an intercom system. Since we did not have a quorum, we couldn’t make any
recommendation on that. I just want to bring you up to date that we did go out under the
authority that Mr. Barker has to approve things under $1,000. We purchased a portion
of them, which has gotten us going. That wireless intercom piece of that system will be
in place tomorrow for our graduation program that we’re doing. There was about $3,200
left in that entire request that I had made - $4,000 to purchase a combined
wireless/wired intercom system. So the wired portion of that along with the wiring and
such still needs to be acted upon hopefully today.
MOTION BY ED LECIUS TO APPROVE THE REQUEST FOR THE PURCHASE OF
THE COMBINED WIRELESS INTERCOM SYSTEM
ON THE QUESTION
I have some questions about the systems that we got the handouts on. Are these
completely self contained in the portable units?
There are 2 systems – one to companies the one that makes the wireless system also
makes a small box which allows it to be connected to the wired system. So each of
them have 4 intercom stations. One system could be out being used for the government
channel while the other system could be out being used for the education channel. If we
have a larger remote production, we can then put those 2 systems together for a total of
7 intercom stations. So we have a director, a technical director, somebody running
audio, and 3 camera people, they can all listen to one another.
I guess my question was more intended toward how portable is the system as a whole if
you were doing something…
They are both portable. Obviously the wireless system is more portable. It comes in a
little suitcase that we have already. The other one will come in a small case. It just has
a power supply, 4 headphones, and then obviously the wires to connect those. So we’re
going to need a couple of 250 foot lengths of wire to get to the for this camera (inaudible)
for a football game or something. The problem we had in utilizing a wireless system
over at Stellos Stadium is the wireless system will not transmit through the metal
bleacher system there. So we need to have a wired system to get us up from where
we’re going to be situated beside the stadium up to the top of the press box.
It struck lightning from the fingers here, it looks like you spent around $800 on the
It was $866.
It looks like the other ones around $3,200 still? Can I suggest that we use the wire
system for a while and actually check it at Stellos Stadium before we go in for the extra
cost hard wired system? The difference in cost is considerable. If you find that you
need more units, you could always buy some more wireless units if it worked
successfully. You have the ideal opportunity to test it at this point. I would hold out on
purchasing the hard wired system quite frankly.
Yes, I sort of have to agree with that. The wireless system for one thing when I look at
this, that sucker looks suspiciously like a FR wrist radio.
It is very similar to one.
I’m look at it saying okay for $800 we get a $30 radio with a really nice headset, which I
feel cautiously with this. I think we may be able to find cheaper solutions or better – I
hate to go with a wired system and (inaudible). It just strikes me as we’re going to be
dealing with people tripping over wires, and a mess.
At Stellos we’re looking at putting in permanent wiring there so that we’ll just be able to
connect to the side (inaudible) and those wires will go directly to the camera (inaudible).
I guess I would agree with Mr. Ryder. I’d like to get some more experience with the
wireless sets because they’re just easier in the long run.
I guess I would agree with Mr. Ryder. I’d like to get some more experience with the
wireless sets because they’re just easier in the long run.
They are easier to prep.
Those do not operate on the FRS frequencies right?
They’re on a 2.4 gigahertz frequency.
That probably doesn’t answer my question.
There are some limitations to that system that only – it’s not a full duplex system. Only
the director can talk to the camera operators. The amount of feedback a camera
operator or somebody can provide is as limited on that system just the way that it’s
designed and part of the cost savings. You can buy much more expensive wireless
systems, but we’re trying to keep the costs down on both ends. We went with a system
on the wired side that we’ll be able to be used in conjunction with whatever we get for
the studio. It’s the same brand as what’s been requested or put together by CDA our
consultants. Like I said, we can test out the wireless system and see what sort of range,
but I suspect we’re going to have difficulty in certain locations. If we’re in a ballroom in a
hotel, obviously a wireless system is not going to have any issues there, but you get
more range and more objects between you that does provide some difficulty for these
Well I just heard what Mr. Johnson was saying – the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
So let’s try the thing out and see what happens.
So correct me if the procedure is wrong, but perhaps you’d like to move that we table the
current motion until testing has been done at Stellos.
MOTION BY DENNIS RYDER TO TABLE THE CURRENT MOTION UNTIL TESTING
HAS BEEN DONE AT STELLOS STADIUM
I, too, would like to back up a just for a minute because the topic of the visual channel
migration is some sort evaporated, I think. I’m not sure that as a board here we’ve
actually fully expressed or explored what, if anything, we can do. I suspect that the
answer from Mr. Christiansen will be that we really can’t do anything because they have
control of the channels and the infrastructure. I really do feel for the people that are
calling City Hall and calling the Mayor’s office and expressing their concerns about
losing this channel and about paying an extra $50 a year to be able to continue to watch
this one channel. It’s important in their lives and they’re on a fixed income, or their shut
ins. I just don’t know what if anything we can do. I feel we’ll leave this meeting without
having successfully communicated and at least satisfied their concerns.
Perhaps you’d like to propose a motion for…
I don’t have one in mind at this point. I don’t know what can we do?
My understanding is that we as far as actual actions that we can take are probably fairly
limited. Perhaps a resolution of disapproval or concern on the sense of the board
addressed to Comcast that we feel that this is putting a burden on people with fixed
incomes who are attached to these channels. This is important to them. Again, citing
the number of calls that have been coming to City Hall and the complaints that I’m sure
we’ve all been getting personally. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Perhaps other members of
the board might have ideas.
Can I point out really we should be looking at comments from the public or other before
we go into the remarks by members.
Yes. I see we do have members of the public here, which is fairly unusual for us. If
you’d like to come up and say something. If you could come to the microphone.
COMMENTS BY THE PUBLIC
My name is Dorothy Arts and I live at 2 Lancaster Drive in Nashua. I’m sure there would
be a lot more people here who have the same sentiments I do because I watch that
station, and I’m on a fixed income, and these are real hardships to even a little extra.
Everything is going up. I’m sure that there would be a lot more people if they were able
to come. I mean I could still walk, but it’s very important to me and I find it very
distressing that we don’t have that’s going to stop and it would have to be an extra cost
entailed. It’s just really I’m in to protest them – Comcast’s decision to do this. I think
there should be some other way. The cost should be waived. I think in situations like
this for people who are really is a hardship and is very important to them to have this
program. Thank you.
Thank you for coming Ma'am. I really appreciate your getting out today to do this. I
know it’s not easy to get around. Thank you. It does raise an interesting question
whether Comcast could offer for the cost of this digital migration some kind of a hardship
waiver program that would help the people there most severely impacted by this – for
them to get their church services, and other programming that they rely on at home and
not bear the cost of the additional migration for beyond one year and have an annual
request for a hardship waiver for these boxes, which I’m sure they’re not very expensive
to Comcast anyway. So maybe Mr. Christiansen could address this concept if it already
exists or if it could be considered.
So the question is as I understand it is whether or not we can provide a hardship relief
For one box.
I believe we are offering that with the promotional offer one year free. It is perfectly – the
rate is $3.95 for a box per month. We understand it’s difficult for people like Ms. Arts,
and we are doing our best but unfortunately it’s what we do. We sell cable. We’re in the
A quick question for you while you’re here. I probably should have asked you earlier.
Just for clarification sake for those of us who may not be as familiar with the spectrum or
technical requirements – for the newer TVs that are coming out that have digital
receivers for the (inaudible) signal, are those also going to require these $3.95 a month
boxes or are those new TVs as people might have to replace existing equipment, are
they still going to have to rent the $3.95 a month box or are those going to be part of that
tuner that’s built into the new television sets?
Let me double check before I answer here. I believe – all the channels being migrated
are going into digital starter. So if you buy one of these new TVs with a digital tuner, you
plug your TV in the same one you have today, you’re going to get those channels. You
do not need that digital box because they’re not going to digital 1, or like digital plus or
digital premium. They’re going to that first digital starter package. But if you go that
route, you’re not going to have access to the on demand programming that I referenced
earlier. You’re not going to have access to the programming guide – all the other digital
features that Comcast offers.
What is the cost of digital starter compared to the cost of the expanded basic?
I believe they’re identical. I think they’re the same cost. I would have to get back to you,
but I didn’t bring that with me. I think they’re exactly the same cost.
So you’d eliminate the box cost if you bought a new TV?
Of course then your TV is certainly not inexpensive either.
Does anyone else have any questions?
This probably goes against public speaking training, but were you guys going to address
Mr. Poehnert’s memo about Comcast digital migration?
I believe that’s actually a copy of one that had been discussed earlier at a previous
Yes I put that together basically as a reference to any conversation we were going to
have today simply because we had dealt with the same subject in the past.
You probably didn’t get the notice, but the notice for the channel migration was signed
by certified mail by I believe Ralph Jackson on May 27th. So the City did receive proper
If you notice that the memo that I included in there was from December 13th.
I didn’t notice.
That was why I just wanted it as a reference to anything we discussed today.
Yes and I will just read into the record here from Mr. Christiansen this document that
was provided back in December when we last addressed this topic that involved we
kindly provided a section of the law that says: “any federal agency, state, or franchising
authority (which this board is a franchising authority) an item enclosed requirements
regarding the provision or content of cable services except as expressly provided in this
title”. So they’re correct that we have no legal recourse to influence Comcast on this
Can I ask what other channels have historically moved out of the analog tier and into
Well historically I would have to go back and see what we migrated last fall.
I mean I remember there was controversy over CSPAN II. There were others right?
I think there were maybe 2 others at that point.
Are there more contemplated in the future?
I believe I have made that clear. There will be more channel migrations.
I think some of the angst that gets felt here at least is the fact that we’re not seeing the
I can tell you Alderman McCarthy that we struggle with that whether or not do you rip the
band aid all off at once or do you rip it off slowly. There’s really not a good answer to
that question. But there are going to be more channel migrations. I don’t know what
those channels are. I don’t think those decisions have been made yet.
Ultimately our $56.99 a month expanded basic cable services becomes less valuable by
the month as we get less channels for the same fee or you can ask to ante up on top of
that additional money for that sort of a hidden rate increase in terms of getting less
channels for the amount we’re now paying, and we’re being asked to pay more and
forget what we were getting.
I think that was more of a statement but I will respond. I think when the basic tier – what
we call B2 channels basically 25 through 70 gets smaller and smaller. You’re definitely
going to see a rate adjustment in that B2 tier. I suspect obviously it would be downward.
There could be corresponding rate adjustment – you’re putting all those in a digital
starter. A digital starter, as I said today I believe, is the same price. We’re going to try to
keep you whole. Channel migration is not a money making prospect for us. It’s a
capacity process for us.
MOTION BY DENNIS RYDER TO ADJOURN
The meeting was declared closed at 9:36 a.m.