NEWTOWN AREA TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF February 7, 2007

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

Also present was Brian Jeter representing Comcast Cable Communications, Inc.

No representative from Verizon attended the meeting.

Call to Order

Chairman James Bowe called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M.

MINUTES OF January 3, 2007:

James Manahan moved to approve the minutes of January 3, 2007. The motion was seconded by Harry Stevens and passed unanimously (5-0).

NEW BUSINESS:

OLD BUSINESS:

Candidate Debates

James Bowe updated the Committee members with regards to discussions he has had with Council Rock North and the Political Science Club. He advised that he should know more by next week and will update the Committee members at the March meeting.

Harry Stevens questioned if the League of Women Voters would be involved. James Bowe advised that he believes they would be involved.

Harry Stevens commented with regards to how the Township would limit the participants in the debate. James Bowe advised that this debate would occur prior to the General Elections and that would help to eliminate most of the candidates that come out of the Primary.

Robert Hafner commented with regards to the Township currently not having a Public Access Channel. He questioned what channel the debate would be shown on. He also discussed possible issues that could arise with the Township showing the debate.

James Bowe advised that Northampton Township has been showing debates for years.

Brian Jeter suggested that the Township establish a set of rules with regards to public access. He advised that Levittown, Pennsylvania has a set of public access rules.

The Committee members discussed the Township’s Public Access Channel not being activated at this time.

The Committee members discussed what channel the debate would be shown on and agreed it would probably be shown on Channel 22.

Harry Stevens advised the Committee members that he feels that the League of Women Voters should be involved.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members on what information he knows from his prior involvement with the League of Women Voters.

James Bowe advised the Committee members that his biggest concern is how the debate would be paid for. He also discussed Council Rock North’s involvement.

Harry Stevens commented with regards to there being no debate for the last elections and that he did not want to be wasting the Committee’s time.

James Bowe advised that he has already begun making telephone calls to potential candidates.

Robert Hafner commented with regards to the current discussions being for the General Election, he questioned if there were candidates interested in having a debate for the Primary Elections, how would the Committee handle it. James Bowe suggested that if there was an interest in having a debate for the Primary Elections that the Committee would recommend waiting for the next time around.

Barbara Jankowski advised the Committee members that she feels that the candidates should pay for the debates. She also discussed the need for a forum and a set of rules.

The Committee members discussed upcoming Primary Elections in May and then not again for two years.

Don Smith advised the Committee members that he believes that if the League of Women’s Voters were involved they would handle the debate 100%.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members on what he knows with regards to his past experiences with the League of Women Voters.

The Committee members discussed Northampton’s venue. James Bowe advised the Committee members that he believes the debates were held at the Northampton Township building.

The Committee members discussed the debate with regards to the two seats that will be opening for Supervisors and the seats opening on the Council Rock School Board.

The Committee members expressed concerns with regards to getting permission from Council Rock School District before getting to far ahead of themselves.

James Bowe advised the Committee members that he would contact Council Rock School District and the League of Women Voters to discuss the matter.

CGI Communications, Inc.

James Bowe updated the Committee members with regards to the meeting with CGI Communications, Inc. He advised that CGI Communications, Inc. is offering the Township/Borough a free five minute web based commercial. He advised that CGI Communications, Inc. would recruit businesses from the Township/Borough to sponsor the commercial.

James Bowe brought a video for the Committee members to review, and he advised that the video was done by the Township’s Economic Business Development Committee. He suggested that the commercial produced by CGI Communications, Inc. would be similar.

Harry Stevens suggested speaking to existing Township/Borough residents to get ideas for what the commercial should be about.

James Bowe commented on the commercial being a sales tool for the Township/Borough.

The Committee members discussed the Township/Borough having control of the content.

The Committee members discussed what the commercial should be about.

The Committee members discussed this service not being a revenue generator for the Township/Borough.

The Committee members discussed recommending the Board of Supervisors to look into the service provided by CGI Communications, Inc.

The Committee members discussed the length of the contract.

The Committee members discussed the rules and guidelines for the sponsors. Members agreed that the sponsors should be kept local, meaning that they have a physical business in the Township/Borough not a post office box. The members agreed to discuss the matter further.

The Committee members discussed recommending CGI Communications, Inc. to the Board of Supervisors and the Borough Council with the following conditions – that a closer look is taken at the rules in which sponsors will be selected and commercials will be put together. The Township/Borough will have to approve the content. The Township/Borough will have the condition to further analyze the rules for sponsors.

James Manahan made motion to recommend to the Board of Supervisors and the Borough Council to move forward with regards to CGI Communications, Inc. with the following conditions, that a closer look is taken at the rules in which sponsors will be selected and commercials will be put together. The motion was seconded by Robert Hafner and passed unanimously (5-0).

The Committee members agreed to discuss the rules at the March meeting.

James Bowe agreed to make a presentation to the Borough Council regarding CGI Communications, Inc.

TelVue

James Bowe updated the Committee members with regards to January meeting with TelVue. He advised that TelVue would create a template for the Township to fill with information. He discussed the ability to repeat information yearly, the ability to post emergency information and the ability to post sports information.

The Committee members discussed the up front cost for the equipment and the monthly cost for the service. James Bowe advised that TelVue would pay all cost, sponsors would cover the monthly cost and TelVue would be responsible for finding sponsors.

The Committee members discussed this service not being a revenue generator for the Township/Borough.

The Committee members discussed the feed being located at the Township and TelVue’s ability to access the system remotely.

The Committee members discussed recommending the Board of Supervisors to look into the service provided by TelVue.

The Committee members discussed the length of the contract.

The Committee members discussed the rules and guidelines for the sponsors. Members agreed that the sponsors should be kept local, meaning that they have a physical business in the Township/Borough not a post office box. The members agreed to discuss the matter further.

James Bowe advised that there is a set of rules in the packet.

The Committee members discussed recommending TelVue to the Board of Supervisors and the Borough Council with the following conditions – that a closer look is taken at the rules in which sponsors will be selected. The Township/Borough will have to approve the content. The Township/Borough will have the condition to further analyze the rules for sponsors.

James Manahan made motion to recommend to the Board of Supervisors and the Borough Council to move forward with regards to TelVue with the following conditions, that a closer look is taken at the rules in which sponsors will be selected. The motion was seconded by Robert Hafner and passed unanimously (5-0).

The Committee members agreed to discuss the rules at the March meeting.

James Bowe agreed to make a presentation to the Borough Council regarding TelVue.

COMCAST UPDATE:

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members that currently there are no updates with regards to Comcast.

Brian Jeter discussed Verizon’s launch within the area.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members that Comcast is doing underground work within the Township.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to Statewide Franchising and advised that he does not believe Pennsylvania will adopt an agreement this year.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members with regards to the FCC order.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members on the status of a Federal Franchise Agreement.

Brian Jeter updated the Committee members with regards to Internet regulations and network neutrality.

James Manahan questioned how many Comcast customers have switched to Verizon. Brian Jeter advised with regards to the number of Comcast customers in the county.

The Committee members discussed the Comcast office in Newtown no longer being open on Saturdays.

Barbara Jankowski questioned if Comcast has been having any HDTV problems. Brian Jeter advised that the problems could be due to the weather and advised her that if the problem continues to email him.

Brian Jeter advised the Committee members with regards to the new job announcement for new technicians.

Brian Jeter questioned the Committee with regards to Verizon’s requirement to activate the Government and Educational Channels. He advised the Committee members on Comcast’s position and policy.

The Committee members discussed the Verizon Franchise Agreement with regards to activating the Government and Educational Channels.

The Committee members thanked Brian Jeter for the update.

OTHER BUSINESS/MEMBER COMMENTS:

The Committee members discussed the possibility of a video to educate the public on the need for the Municipal Complex expansion.

Don Smith updated the Committee members with regards to the Borough’s Government Channel.

The Committee members discussed the location of the Township’s server.

The Committee members discussed the Township having power backup in case of a power outage.

The Committee members discussed the need for the Township to be able to access the web site remotely.

The Committee members discussed having the local highschool students producing video content for the Township/Borough’s Government and Educational Channels.

ADJOURNMENT:

The meeting adjourned at 9:18 P.M.

The next meeting is scheduled for March 7, 2007. 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