Coastsiders may not see any benefit from new cable fees
MCTV (Cable Channel 6) is raising the alarm about a plan to use Coastside cable fees for services that won’t benefit Coastsiders.
San Mateo County has drafted a new 15-year franchise agreement with Comcast that will charge Coastside Comcast subscribers an additional $.55 per month. The new fees will pay to deliver services and systems not available on the Coastside. The new franchise agreement will be considered by the Board of Supervisors, probably on Tuesday, February 28.
MCTV estimates that $222,000 will be raised from Coastside fees during the 15 years of the agreement. This money will be used for programming on Pen TV, in San Carlos, which is not on the Coastside’s cable system, and to build a fiber optic network connecting government offices with Public, Educational, and Government (PEG) stations, but which will not extend to the Coastside.
These fees are for the unincorporated Coastside only. Half Moon Bay has a separate agreement with Comcast that does not expire for another five years. However, this plan directly affects Half Moon Bay residents, who depend on MCTV to telecast their city council, school district, and water district meetings as well as Board of Supervisors meetings.
MCTV wants the supervisors to allocate the full $222,000 to Coastside capital requirements. Their top priority is to install an automated playback system and equipment to increase the frequency of government meetings telecast on the Coastside. Less urgent, but perhaps more important, this will be MCTV’s last opportunity for 15 years to get money from Comcast to replace some their ageing systems.
The station is asking Coastsiders to contact the Board of Supervisors and ask them to allocate funds specifically to MCTV. To see MCTV’s press release and suggested letter to the supervisors, click "read more".
IMPACT OF THE COMCAST FRANCHISE RENEWAL ON THE COASTSIDE
Comcast has reached a tentative agreement with San Mateo County to renew its cable franchise for 15 years.
- Comcast will receive a franchise to continue cable service to the unincorporated portion of the Coastside for the next 15 years.
- This includes only Montara, Moss Beach, El Granada, La Honda, Pescadero and Loma Mar. It does not include the City of Half Moon Bay, as the City’s franchise with Comcast does not expire for another five years. Cable service will continue to City residents without change.
- In addition to continuing to pay the County the existing franchise fee, Comcast will agree to pay the County additional money to support Public Educational and Governmental programming (PEG Access Support). The additional support will be approximately $390,000.
- Comcast will also build a fiber optic network to link County buildings and PEG Access stations located on the Bayside. The County portion of this network will cost Comcast $620,000 to build. None of the network will extend to the Coastside.
- Comcast will have the right to recover the cost of this additional support by charging its County cable subscribers an additional fee of $0.55 per month beginning January 1, 2007 and continuing for 15 years. Comcast has the option to raise this fee to $0.65 per month.
- Over the 15 year period, Comcast will receive at least $222,000 from County subscribers on the Coastside.
The Coastside is not getting its proportional share of the financial contributions by Comcast in this franchise
- The Coastside will not receive any benefit from the additional fees unless the Supervisors pass a special resolution to allocate a share of the money to support PEG Access on the Coastside, which is provided solely by Mid-Coast Television, Channel 6 (MCTV).
- At the present, most of the funds are targeted for Peninsula TV (Pen TV), which is Channel 26 on the Bayside Comcast system, which shows public programming that Coastsiders cannot watch because the Comcast system on the Coastside is not connected to the remainder of the Comcast system.
- The Capital grants from Comcast for construction of the fiber optic network are entirely allocated to building a network to link County offices, Pen TV, and other Bayside locations to a new video and data network. No public facilities on the Coastside, including MCTV, will be connected to this network.
MCTV is asking the Supervisors to keep the additional cable fees collected from Coastside subscribers to support Coastside Public Access Television
- MCTV believes that Coastsiders should receive as much funding for Public Access television as they pay into the Comcast system.
- MCTV is asking the Board of Supervisors to allocate the entire $222,000 for future equipment needs of MCTV so it can continue to provide coverage of public meetings and other educational and entertainment programming of interest to the Coastside.
- MCTV is asking for an initial allocation of $92,000 to enable it to install an automated playback system and purchase needed production equipment. This would permit public meetings and other MCTV programs to be viewed several times during a day or a week so viewers would have more chances to see the programs they are interested in.
- By permitting more frequent showings of MCTV programs, this initial funding would enable Coastsiders to receive an immediate benefit from the extra cable fees they will be paying.
- This franchise renewal is MCTV’s only chance to obtain additional capital funding from Comcast for the next 15 years on the County portion of the system. Without this funding, MCTV may not be able to continue operations because of the need to replace very expensive video equipment as it wears out from constant use.
What can you do to support Coastside public television?
WRITE TO THE SAN MATEO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS before FEB. 28, 2006
MCTV urges all Comcast subscribers to write to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, urging them to allocate the funds from Coastside Comcast subscribers to PEG Access on the Coastside. The vote on the Franchise Renewal will likely happen on Feb. 28, 2006.
MCTV also asks that subscribers request that Comcast be required to live up to its existing commitments to MCTV to do the following:
- Comcast is required to provide studio and office space for MCTV.
- Comcast is required to give 1 years notice of a change in MCTV’s channel designation and to pay the actual costs of publicizing such a change.
- Comcast promised to provide live video feeds so MCTV could cablecast City Council and Mid Coast Community Council meetings live-but Comcast has never fulfilled this promise.
- Please send your letters to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. A sample letter is shown below.
Hon. Jerry Hill, President, Board of Supervisors
Hon. Rich Gordon, Board of Supervisors
Hon. Mark Church, Board of Supervisors
Hon. Rose Jacobs Gibson, Board of Supervisors
Hon. Adrienne J. Tissier, Board of Supervisors
400 County Government Center
Redwood City, California 94063
As a Comcast subscriber and a Coastside resident, I am writing to request that you allocate all of the additional cable fees to be collected from Coastside residents to support public, education and governmental access television on the Coastside, which is provided solely by Mid-Coast Television. I support MCTV’s request for $92,000 in immediate funding as well as the balance of the funds collected over the life of the franchise. I also support requiring Comcast to abide by promises made in their existing agreements with MCTV. Because the Coastside will not receive any benefit from the very expensive fiber optic network to be built by Comcast, I believe it is important that MCTV receives its full fair share of the additional PEG Access funding provided by the Franchise Renewal with Comcast.
Very truly yours,
MCTV and its Board of Directors, Staff and Viewers Thank You for Your Support!