Paul Bockelman (left) attending Cable Advisory Committee meeting yesterday
New Town Manager Paul Bockelman parachuted into a hot LZ with two critical concerns coming up at the routine Monday night Select Board meeting: The impasse with Comcast over their ten year franchise renewal and the steadily worsening water situation.
At their Thursday morning meeting Bockelman asked the Cable Advisory Committee for a "little leeway" in getting up to speed. The CAC convinced the Select Board to reject the current offer which includes a one time payment of $950,000 for new equipment and the standard 5% cut of cable revenues (around $300K per year).
The Select Board has until September 26 to formally accept or reject the offer but Comcast would then appeal the decision and would continue to operate under the old contract.
If Comcast agrees to return to the bargaining table the CAC, in addition to their two members, demand a member of Amherst Media also be present to "increase the efficiency and accuracy of the discussion."
Amherst Media also funded a 5-year audit of Comcast and although the official report is not yet concluded enough irregularities have been found to warrant a conference call with the entire Cable Advisory Committee, Amherst Media and the town hired consultant/attorney Peter Epstein.
All things combines -- Internet, Telephone, TV and Advertising sales -- the ten year contract is estimated to generate $80 million in total revenues to Comcast.