Monday, January 4, 2016

Audit This

Cable Advisory Committee and Amherst Media Director Jim Lescault (rt)

The Cable Advisory Committee voted unanimously today to "formally request the town of Amherst authorize via our special counsel an independent 5 year audit of Comcast."

The $28,000 study is meant to uncover any under reporting over the past five years of cable revenues generated in Amherst.

According to the current license agreement -- which expires in October -- Comcast pays the town 5% of television revenues (but not Internet or phone) which goes to fund Amherst Media.

In the most recent quarter Comcast reported $1,569,509 in qualifying revenues and cut a check to Amherst Media for $74,599.44.  The committee is also sending a memo to the Select Board on Friday outlining key negotiation requests they are seeking to be included in the new ten-year contract.

Should other cities and towns in the region join in with the audit process the $28,000 cost would be divided up equally, sort of like a class action lawsuit.

 CAC member Sean Hannon, also the town's Information Technology Director, was going to hand deliver the $28,000 formal request to Interim Town Manager Dave Ziomek. 


Anonymous said...

Why do they think there is unreported revenue?

Larry Kelley said...

Apparently the consultant who specializes in such things said they usually find some.

But they would need to find an awful lot to make back the $28,000 cost if the town ends up going it alone.

Anonymous said...

Larry: Thank you for your continued coverage of these developments. Could you clarify one key thing for me: What exclusive rights does the license in question give Comcast? That is, would it get in the way of establishing gigabit access for the downtown area, as per the BID's efforts? Or, would it prevent Amherst from rolling out its own municipal internet service before the end of the contract?

I can only hope the Committee is paying close attention to the market trends (decline in cable subscription; introduction of data caps on wired connections) and is taking them into account in negotiating any long-term deal.

Again, thank you for keeping a close eye on this.

Larry Kelley said...

The exclusive license granted to Comcast is for cable TV only. The Committee is not even discussing Internet with them (or digital phone subscribers).

I have Comcast at home for Internet and they recently notified me about getting a free new modem, which I believe will be as fast as the speeds the BID is dreaming about for downtown.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Larry. Much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

who pays the $28,000? Town of Amherst or Amherst Media?

Larry Kelley said...

Town of Amherst.

Anonymous said...

So these nutjobs get to keep the money if they find uncounted revenue, but we pay for it if they come up short. Nice.

Anonymous said...

presumably TM will have to approve an appropriation?

Larry Kelley said...