NEWTOWN AREA TELECOMMUNICATIONS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF FEBRUARY 6, 2008

 

Members Present: Harry Stevens, Chairman; James Manahan, Member; and Barbara Jankowski, Member Representing Newtown Township; Patrick Foster, Vice Chairman and Gerard O’Malley, Liaison Representing Newtown Borough. Not present were Jerry Schenkman, Liaison and Robert Hafner, Member Liaison Representing Newtown Township.

Also present was Stephanie Beavers representing Verizon and Borough resident John Leonard.

No representative from Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. attended the meeting.

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Stevens called the meeting to order at 7:36 P.M.

VERIZON UPDATE:

Stephanie Beavers updated the members with regards to Verizon’s annual notice to subscribers; a copy was sent to John Boyle and Marcia Scull; the packet included the channel lineup and the subscriber notice. Subscribers should have received the notice in early January.

Stephanie Beavers advised on the price increase that takes effect after February 15, 2008; the increase will only effect new customers who sign up after February 15, 2008. She advised that she does not anticipate any other price increases this year.

Barbara Jankowski commented on Verizon’s customers who have the triple play deal. Stephanie Beavers discussed bundle customers and their lock in.

Stephanie Beavers advised the members on the popularity of the free television offer.

Stephanie Beavers advised that after January 10 th any new subscribers would be signed up as all digital; no analog service; this is in preparation of the FCC requirement next year. She advised that Verizon would be converting the analog service in June/July; she discussed notification to the customers.

Harry Stevens discussed Comcast’s intention to down convert; he explained how it will work and questioned if Verizon would be doing the same. He discussed televisions with picture in picture capabilities, analog signals and the possibility of Comcast having an advantage. Stephanie Beavers advised that it is Verizon’s intent to go all digital.

Harry Stevens commented on Verizon’s conversion to the new menu; he discussed the response time for menus to load. Stephanie Beavers advised that Verizon is aware of the problem and that software upgrades would be happening over time. She discussed Verizon’s Philadelphia video hub office being the last to receive the interrupted media guide.

Harry Stevens discussed the changes between the new and old programming guide.

Christy Holley advised the members that she is a new FiOS television customer and on the problems she is experiencing. Stephanie Beavers suggested that she call for service.

The Committee members discussed buffering, signal delays and satellite feeds. Stephanie Beavers explained how the satellite feed works at Verizon.

Harry Stevens commented on Verizon having a place for customers to go for service (example: box exchange). Stephanie Beavers advised that box exchanges are handle through UPS; she advised on locations for walk-in questions and assistance.

The Committee members thanked Stephanie Beavers for her time.

Stephanie Beavers advised the members that the next meeting she would be attending would be in April.

RE-ORGANIZATION OF THE COMMITTEE:

Harry Stevens advised the members that Gerard O’Malley is the new liaison for the Borough and Jerry Schenkman will continue as liaison for the Township.

The Committee members discussed the Township’s vacant position. The members discussed Mayur Shah’s attendance at a prior meeting and a suggested was made to contact him to see if he would still be interested in joining the Committee.

Harry Stevens advised that the Township is forming a Technology Committee.

James Manahan made a motion to nominate Harry Stevens for Chairman. The motion was seconded by Barbara Jankowski and passed unanimously (4-0).

James Manahan made a motion to nominate Patrick Foster for Vice-Chairman. The motion was seconded by Barbara Jankowski and passed unanimously (4-0).

James Manahan made a motion to nominate Patrick Foster for Treasurer. The motion was seconded by Barbara Jankowski and passed unanimously (4-0).

MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 7, 2007:

Patrick Foster made a motion to approve the minutes of November 7, 2007. The motion was seconded by James Manahan and passed unanimously (4-0).

MINUTES OF DECEMBER 5, 2007:

Patrick Foster moved to approve the minutes of December 5, 2007. The motion was seconded by Harry Stevens and passed unanimously with two members abstaining (2-0-2).

COMCAST REPORT:

The members received a copy of The Comcast Connection, Volume 3, Issue 1, January 2008 for their review.

Comcast Franchise Agreement

Harry Stevens updated the members with regards to the status of the Comcast Franchise Agreement; he advised that he has not heard anything from John Boyle.

NEW BUSINESS:

Borough Broadcasting Meetings

The Committee members discussed the Borough meetings being broadcast. Patrick Foster advised that he has not heard anything.

Harry Stevens advised that Verizon has run a feed to the Borough and that the Borough Council meets formally at the Chancellor Center.

John Leonard questioned the cost involved with broadcasting meetings. Harry Stevens advised on what information he could with regards to the cost of broadcasting meetings.

John Leonard questioned the ability of putting the videos from meetings on the website. Harry Stevens advised with regards to the Township position on the matter of putting video from meetings on the website.

Gerard O’Malley arrived for the meeting. Harry Stevens updated him with regards to discussions that have taken place at tonight’s meeting.

Gerard O’Malley updated the members on the Borough’s position with regards to broadcasting Council meetings on Comcast Channel 22; he advised that Council has met to discuss the Borough investing the feasibility and cost involved. He discussed the options available to the Borough and the broadcast being live and taped.

The Committee members discussed the feed at Borough Hall and the Chancellor Center.

The Committee members discussed whom the School Board uses for broadcasting.

The Committee members discussed where the Borough would like to broadcast. Gerard O’Malley advised that the Borough Council would like to broadcast from the Chancellor Center, but there could be problems with switching the feeds. The members discussed the School Board and the Borough having different channels. The members discussed Comcast and Verizon not wanting to be involved with the switching. Harry Stevens advised that a fiber link is needed from Borough Hall to the Chancellor Center and a switch would be needed at the Chancellor Center. The members discussed the broadcast being live and rebroadcast.

The members discussed the programming for Channel 22 being done at the Borough Hall by Marcia Scull.

OLD BUSINESS:

Candidate Debates

The Committee members discussed broadcasting debates.

Public Access Channel

Harry Stevens discussed having a public access channel; he advised on discussions with an attorney for the Comcast Consortium regarding the matter. He advised that he is in favor of moving forward and gathering information for recommendations to the Borough and Township.

Barbara Jankowski advised that she would be in favor of a public access channel; but strict guidelines would be needed.

The members discussed the types of things that could be broadcast.

Patrick Foster advised that he feels setting guidelines would be beyond the charge of the Committee.

The members discussed the broadcast of the Candidate Debates.

Harry Stevens advised that it would be the Committee’s task to set up reasonable guideline and recommendations. Once that was complete the Committee would make a presentation to the Township Supervisors and Borough Council, letting them make the final decisions. He advised that he is not looking for the Committee to be in charge of running the Channel.

James Manahan advised that he agrees in principal; but would like to see if the Borough and Township would support a public access channel first, if the Committee has the support he would be in favor.

Gerard O’Malley agreed with James Manahan; the Committee should check to see if the Borough or Township would support the idea.

The members discussed the public access channel run out of Levittown or Bristol.

Harry Stevens advised the members that he would begin researching what’s involved.

John Leonard questioned if public access means happened in public.

James Manahan commented on the financial impact to the Township and Borough and who would review the DVD’s being submitted.

The Committee members discussed the cost involved to the Township and Borough.

The Committee members discussed the Franchise Fees received to the Township and Borough.

OTHER BUSINESS/MEMBER COMMENTS:

The members introduced themselves to Gerard O’Malley the new Borough liaison.

The members discussed past recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.

The members were provided correspondence from Ralph Douglas, Bucks County Peg Channel Access Corporation dated January 18, 2008.

Gerard O’Malley updated the members with regards to the Borough looking to fill the vacant position on the Committee; he advised that John Leonard could be a possible candidate.

ADJOURNMENT:

The meeting adjourned at 8:54 P.M.

The next meeting is scheduled for March 5, 2008. 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