NEWTOWN AREA TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF OCTOBER 4, 2006

 

Members Present: James Manahan, Chairman; James Bowe, Member; Barbara Jankowski, Member; Harry Stevens, Member; and Jerry Schenkman, Liaison Representing Newtown Township; Don Smith, Liaison Representing Newtown Borough. Not present were Robert Hafner, Member Representing Newtown Township and Patrick Foster, Vice-Chairman Representing Newtown Borough.

Also present were Brian Jeter, Director of Government & Community Relations representing Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. and Middletown Township residents Topper Cook and Bruce VanDusen.

No representative from Verizon attended the meeting.

Call to Order

Chairman James Manahan called the meeting to order at 7:34 P.M.

MINUTES OF AUGUST 2, 2006:

James Bowe moved to approve the minutes of August 2, 2006. The motion was seconded by Harry Stevens and passed unanimously.

MINUTES OF SEPTEMBER 6, 2006:

Barbara Jankowski advised that she had one change to the minutes of September 6, 2006. On page 2, under Verizon Discussions, the last paragraph, her discussions were with Dan Reavey not Brian Jeter.

Christy Holley advised that she also had one change to the minutes of September 6, 2006. On page 1, under Members Present, the minutes show Patrick Foster being present and not present, he was not in attendance at the September meeting.

James Bowe made a motion to approve the minutes of September 6, 2006 with the above changes. The motion was seconded by Harry Stevens and passed unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS:

The Committee members discussed content for the Government Channel (Channel 22).

James Bowe suggested airing a video of the Newtown Chamber Orchestra Concert and advised on discussions with Bob Pellegrino. The Committee members agreed they were in favor of the suggestion to air the concert .

Jerry Schenkman questioned the Committee’s Mission Statement with regards to content on the Government Channel. James Bowe advised on prior discussions with regards to the Committee’s Mission Statement and content for Township channels.

The Committee members discussed community events that could be shown on the Township channels.

The Committee members discussed encouraging the public to submit video content to the Committee for review and if acceptable the Committee would recommend to the Board of Supervisors to air the program on one of the Township channels. James Manahan advised he would discuss the matter at his next report before the Board of Supervisors.

The Committee members discussed the Public Access Channel (Channel 99) and the Education Channel (Channel 27).

The Committee members discussed the Township’s Public Access Channel currently being run by Comcast.

The Committee members discussed establishing a headend for the Township’s Public Access Channel.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members on the pros and cons of enacting a Public Access Channel. He suggested the Committee contact Berks Community Television in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Harry Stevens advised the Committee members on the Public Access Channel in Windsor, Ontario.

The Committee members agreed to research enacting the Public Access Channel before advising the Board of Supervisors.

Jerry Schenkman advised that as a Supervisor he has no problem with airing the Newtown Chamber Orchestra Concert on the Government Channel for the short term but questioned possible problems that could create.

James Bowe suggested airing the audio from the concert when the character generator is running.

The Committee members discussed the Township’s new website.

James Bowe discussed the need to examine the Township’s high-speed access. He advised that currently the Township has two or three T-1s, he discussed the cost incurred to the Township monthly. He advised on the Township’s old servers. He suggested that the Committee research the matter and make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

The Committee members discussed the possibility of the Township going wireless.

Harry Stevens commented on the website and broadcasting emergency information. He discussed the need for the ability to access the website from outside of the Municipal Complex. The Committee members agreed that Township officials needed to be able to access the website from outside of the Municipal Complex for emergencies.

The Committee members discussed maintaining the servers.

The Committee members discussed having remote access for the character generator.

The Committee members discussed recommendations to improve the equipment that the Township currently has.

Harry Stevens made a motion to ask the Board of Supervisors to allow the Committee to review the Township’s telecommunication needs (IT issues). The motion was seconded by James Bowe and passed unanimously.

James Bowe made a motion to recommend that the Board of Supervisors consider replaying the Newtown Chamber Orchestra Concert on the Government Channel (Channel 22). The motion was seconded by James Manahan and passed unanimously.

Jerry Schenkman discussed the proposed Municipal Complex expansion. He advised the Committee members on discussions at the Financial Planning Committee’s September meeting and with the Board of Supervisors regarding the production of an educational video to inform the public of the conditions of the current Municipal Complex and the Township’s needs for the future. He advised that the Township is looking for someone to be the tour guide for the video. He advised that the proposed video would be approximately thirty minutes long. He discussed funding for the proposed Municipal Complex expansion and the development of the Woll Tract.

James Bowe advised that he is in favor of the Township producing the video and that he may know someone at Bucks County Community College who might be interested in being the tour guide for the video.

Jerry Schenkman advised that the cost involved with producing the video is being configured into next year’s B udget.

The Committee members discussed the Township purchasing land from the Archdiocese.

The Committee members discussed the replaying of the Municipal Complex educational video on the Government Channel (Channel 22).

James Bowe suggested starting discussions with regards to airing Candidate debates for next year.

OLD BUSINESS:

Verizon Franchise Agreement

Jerry Schenkman advised the Committee members that the Board of Supervisors signed the Verizon Franchise Agreement on September 27, 2006 and that Mr. Peterson signed on September 25, 2006.

Jerry Schenkman advised the Committee members that Verizon should go live within the Township in the first or second quarter of 2007.

Don Smith advised the members that Verizon is also expected to go live within the Borough in the first or second quarter of 2007.

Jerry Schenkman updated the Committee members on his discussions with Bill Peterson at Verizon.

COMCAST UPDATE:

The Committee members discussed the services that Comcast is providing to the Fire Company and the Ambulance Squad. Brian Jeter advised the members that he would look into what services are being provided to the Fire Company , the Police Department and the Ambulance Squad and update the Committee members.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to the latest legislation on Statewide and Federal Franchising.

Brian Jeter encouraged the Committee members to lookup a website called keepitlocalpa.com. The Committee members agreed to look into the website and discuss it further at next month’s meeting.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members on the digital tile issues that Comcast is experiencing. The Members discussed how they have experienced the tiling on the analog channels. Brian Jeter requested the members to email him when they are experiencing a problem.

Harry Stevens commented on the signal delays he has experienced with Comcast’s equipment. Brian Jeter advised that he would look into the matter and update the Committee.

Bruce VanDusen advised that he resides at Pennswood Village and that there are approximately four hundred fifty residents who have cable service thru Comcast. He advised that Pennswood Village has established a Television Advisory Committee due to Comcast’s recent channel realignment. He discussed the relocation and cost increase of CSPAN 2 and EWTN. He advised on the Pennswood Village Television Advisory Committee’s mission and that he and Topper Cook were here tonight to gather any information they could. He advised that Pennswood Village Corporation currently has a contract with Comcast. He advised that Pennswood Village and Comcast have resolved the channel relocation issue for one year.

Brian Jeter advised with regards to CSPAN 2, EWTN and the must carry channels. He also discussed the relocation of CSPAN 2 and EWTN.

Brian Jeter advised on the promotional offer that is being offered to Pennswood Village.

Brian Jeter discussed the current agreement between Comcast and Pennswood Village and the ability for private developments to have agreements with Comcast.

Brian Jeter advised that various Townships have asked Comcast to review their Verizon Franchise Agreements.

Brian Jeter advised on Comcast’s procedures for notifying customers of channel relocations and pricing changes.

The Committee members discussed the possibility of establishing a Consortium for the renewal of the Comcast Franchise Agreement.

The Committee members thanked Brian Jeter for his time.

Don Smith questioned when the Borough Hall’s headend would be complete. Brian Jeter advised it should be complete within the next thirty days.

OTHER BUSINESS/MEMBER COMMENTS:

Bruce VanDusen questioned where the Township stands with Verizon. He commented with regards to the Municipal Complex educational video and suggested looking to individuals from Pennswood Village for help.

Topper Cook commented with regards to the towns involved with the Consortium and the Franchise Agreements. He also advised on discussions with Verizon representatives for services being offered to Pennswood Village.

James Bowe advised on this Committee’s role to the Township and the Borough. He suggested that Mr. VanDusen and Mr. Cook contact Middletown Township’s Cable Advisory Committee. He advised on past issues that the Committee has dealt with.

Bruce VanDusen questioned if this Committee knows where Middletown Township is with their Verizon Franchise Agreement. Jerry Schenkman advised on what he knows. Brian Jeter suggested contacting Middletown Township and their Cable Committee.

Bruce VanDusen commented with regards to the proposed Statewide Franchising Bill. He discussed the need for Franchise Agreements to be written to look out for the consumer.

The Committee members discussed the legislation discussions regarding Statewide and Federal Franchising. Brian Jeter suggested that the members watch PCN.

Topper Cook advised the Committee members on his past experiences working for NBC.

Topper Cook and Bruce VanDusen thanked the Committee members and Brian Jeter for their time.

Jerry Schenkman advised that the Consortium was developed to deal with Verizon and the Verizon Franchise Agreement and that there is no Consortium with regards to Comcast.

James Manahan requested that Mr. Cook and Mr. VanDusen keep the Committee informed.

The Committee members discussed the Bucks County Cable Committee.

ADJOURNMENT:

The meeting adjourned at 9:02 P.M.

Once the meeting adjourned the Committee members met in Executive Session.

The next meeting is scheduled for November 1, 2006. 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