NEWTOWN AREA TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

NEWTOWN BOROUGH FIRE HALL

14 LIBERTY STREET

NEWTOWN, PA

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2005


MINUTES OF OCTOBER 5, 2005: James Bowe moved to approve the minutes of October 5, 2005. The motion was seconded by Steve Erwin and passed unanimously with Patrick Foster abstaining.


Members Present: James Manahan, Chairman; Barbara Jankowski, Member; Steve Erwin, Member; and Walt Iwaskiw, Member Representing Newtown Township; Don Smith, Liaison Representing Newtown Borough. Not in attendance was Patrick Foster, Vice-Chairman Representing Newtown Borough and James Bowe, Member and Scott Harp, Liaison Representing Newtown Township.

Also present were Brian Jeter, Director of Government & Community Relations representing Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. and Newtown resident Mike Gallagher.

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman James Manahan called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.

MINUTES OF SEPTEMBER 7, 2005:

Steve Erwin moved to approve the minutes of September 7, 2005. The motion was seconded by Walt Iwaskiw and passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS:

The committee members discussed the updates on the Committee’s contact information list. Don Smith advised that he would provide the recording secretary with Fred Polner’s new fax number.

The committee members discussed contacting the local Colleges and Universities within the area to discuss programming for the local channel. Members agreed to discuss further at next month’s meeting.

The committee members discussed the committee’s current membership and the meeting location.

OLD BUSINESS:

James Manahan updated the committee members with regards to their comments regarding the Township’s draft Franchise Agreement with Verizon. He advised that he is still waiting to hear comments from some members on the committee. Walt Iwaskiw questioned if the Township has a revised draft of the proposed Verizon Franchise Agreement. James Manahan advised he would follow up with the Township. The committee members advised they would discuss further at upcoming meetings.

COMCAST UPDATE:

Brian Jeter introduced himself to the committee members and gave a brief overview of his employment history. He advised that he has been with Comcast for the past eight (8) years.

Brian Jeter advised that Comcast has launched CDV, a digital voice service. He explained that there have been some problems. He discussed the impact that Comcast is dealing with from the work Verizon is doing, explaining that Comcast has had some lines cut by Verizon contractors. He discussed the repairs to the damaged lines. He commented with regards to discussions between Comcast and Verizon regarding the damaged lines. He advised on how Comcast is handling the problems. He commented with regards to Comcast and Verizon competing.

Brian Jeter updated the committee members with regards to the county wide Channel Line-up. He advised that Comcast is looking to launch the new channel line-up in March or April of 2006. He discussed the technical problems Comcast is having.

Brian Jeter advised that at this time Comcast is not adding any new channels, but new content will be added in March or April of 2006.

Brian Jeter advised the committee members with regards to the availability of children’s channel available On-Demand.

Brian Jeter advised the committee members with regards to the parental control guide/channel lock.

The committee members discussed the possibility of Comcast offering an ala cart programming. Brian Jeter advised the committee members that an ala cart programming in unlikely, he suggested that if the service were available it would probably be for sports or family related programs. He also commented with regards to the cost for the service.

Barbara Jankowski commented with regards to recording on her DVR box. She advised that there is feedback on the playback.

Brain Jeter advised he would send out a service technician.

Brian Jeter advised the committee members on the recording memory of the DVR boxes.

Walt Iwaskiw commented with regards to having problems with the analog channels and recording channels below Channel 99. He believes there is a problem with the box.

Mike Gallagher commented with regards to having a DVR charge on his bill.

The committee members discussed Satellite TV.

Walt Iwaskiw questioned when Comcast would be all digital. Brian Jeter advised that Comcast is opposed to the current proposed Bills with regards to being all digital and he explained why.

The committee members discussed the correspondence received from Brian Jeter dated September 16, 2005 regarding changes to the digital channel line-up. Steve Erwin questioned which west coast channels the Township would be losing. Brian Jeter advised that Encore, Showtime and HBO would be effected.

The committee members thanked Brian Jeter for his attendance at the meeting.

OTHER BUSINESS/MEMBER COMMENTS:

The committee members discussed Verizon’s video services. Brian Jeter advised that Comcast does have some concerns regarding Verizon franchising statewide. Comcast wants a level playing field and prefers to franchise on a local level. Don Smith commented with regards to the municipalities’ revenue from franchise agreements. Brian Jeter advised with regards to the municipalities’ revenue. Brian Jeter requested the committee to call for action against National Franchising. Steve Erwin commented with regards to local franchising. Brian Jeter advised that Comcast prefers to deal with the local municipalities and explained why. The committee members discussed the effects of State of National Franchising. Brian Jeter advised the committee members on the Bills to support National Franchising, he advised that he would email the committee members more information. The committee members agreed they would like to see the municipalities retain Local Franchising rather than State or National Franchising.

Brian Jeter questioned the Township’s Franchise Agreement with Verizon. Jim Manahan advised on the committee’s feelings. Brian Jeter questioned the committee involvement with regards to the Franchise Agreement with Verizon. The committee members advised on their involvement. Don Smith advised that thirty (30) local municipalities have been meeting with Attorney Fred Polner to draft a Franchise Agreement. The committee members discussed the draft Franchise Agreement. Brian Jeter advised that Comcast would prefer the two agreements be similar. He discussed agreements in Florida and Texas.

The committee members discussed having a representative from Verizon attend the monthly meetings. The committee members agreed that someone from Verizon should be making an appearance at the meeting.

The committee members discussed Verizon’s progress in the community.

ADJOURNMENT:

The meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 2, 2005. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m., in the Newtown Borough Fire Station located at 14 Liberty Street, Newtown.

 

Respectfully submitted:

 

____________________________
Christy Holley, Recording Secretary