Ten Year Contract for Holyoke
HOLYOKE – Mayor Alex Morse announced the renewal of the City of Holyoke’s ten year license with cable television provider Comcast Communications. The agreement includes several new provisions, including “two-tier” senior discounts, a substantial increase in percentage of Gross Annual Revenue received to fund the annual operations of public, educational and government (“PEG”) Access programming, a new community public access station, and an increase in the amount of funding allocated for PEG access purposes.
The previous ten year license term expired on October 27, 2013 and in anticipation of this deadline Mayor Morse hosted several federally-required public hearings to allow residents to provide testimony on future cable-related needs. Using the community input gathered, the City forwarded the results to Comcast in the form of a Request for Proposal, or RFP. The RFP informed Comcast of the kinds of services and facilities that the City expected to be provided during the renewal term. The City hired Epstein & August LLP, a firm specializing in cable TV contracts, to negotiate on behalf of Holyoke. In addition, the process established the Cable Advisory Committee, to which Mayor Morse appointed Al Williams, Jennifer Myszkowski, Mark Wotton, Michael Hines, Rob Deza, Denis Luzuriaga, and James Bickford. Under the renewed license, this Committee will serve as the Board of Directors to oversee the new community PEG Access Station.
“I’m extremely pleased with the results of these negotiations and what it means for the City of Holyoke,” Mayor Alex Morse said. “The community was clear about wanting the same kinds of benefits that other communities have received, and I have negotiated a license that will benefit Holyoke cable subscribers for years to come. Under these conditions, Holyoke will finally have a true PEG Access station that will allow residents to create their own shows and programming which will, in turn, increase civic engagement.”
Under the renewed license, Comcast has agreed to provide the following:
1. Senior discounts:
All seniors currently receiving a discount will continue to be grandfathered for the existing discount;
Newly qualified seniors will be eligible for a $2.00 discount off the Digital Starter Tier based on the following criteria:
* Age 65 or older;
* Eligible for Medicaid and/or SSI
2. Quarterly payments to the City for PEG Access/Cable-Related funding as follows:
4% of its Gross Annual Revenues ("GAR") (plus fees) for Years 1 & 2;
4.5% of its GAR for Years, 3, 4 & 5;
5% of its GAR for Years 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10
Under the 2003 Renewal license, the City received 1.5% of its GAR which totaled to approximately $126,000 per year. In contrast, annual funding in the new license will increase the City’s revenue to approximately $400,000 in the first year alone.
This funding will enable the Holyoke PEG Access non-profit entity to produce more local programming for Holyoke cable subscribers, train more citizens to use the PEG Access equipment, work with the Holyoke schools and students to produce educational programming, etc.
4% of Gross Annual Revenues ("GAR") will be approximately $400,000
4.5% of GAR will be approximately $450,000 and
5% of GAR will be approximately $500,000
3. Comcast will provide a total of $603,000.00 for PEG Access capital purposes, an increase from the 2003 license, which provided $25,000 for capital purposes
4. A third downstream PEG Access Channel that will be available for community use
Comcast will provide an upstream digital connection from the new PEG access studio to a
Comcast hub or headend site
Holyoke residents will have increased opportunities to create their own programming that will be cablecast on the new public access station
Create five new job opportunities