Cable Advisory Committee (rt), Pete Hechenbleikner (top ctr) Jim Lescault (left ctr)
UPDATE: Select Board decided to hold off on making any decision about the Comcast renewal until they are at full strength (only 3 of 5 members present this evening).
In his final day as Temporary Town Manager Pete Hechenbleikner made it perfectly clear to the Cable Advisory Committee and Amherst Media Director Jim Lescault that he was going to recommend the Amherst Select Board accept and sign the ten year cable renewal contract with Comcast.
The CAC met this morning with Hochenbleikner to discuss and vote on a recommendation to the Select Board and after an hour and a half of discussion decided to take no vote but declared a "consensus" that the offer of one time capital payment of $950,000 was too low.
The Committee was concerned about taking a formal vote when two of their most experienced members were absent.
The previous 2006 contract generated only $450,000 for capital and Mr. Hochenbleikner stated this current offer of $950,000 was the highest in the state for municipalities of comparable size (Northampton, for instance, was paid $750,000).
The town will get to continue using the iNet infrastructure at no extra charge for three more years and then can build their own or renegotiate with Comcast for its continued usage. A new (better) system will cost about $250,000.
Comcast will continue to pay 5% -- the standard amount -- cut of cable TV revenues to the town (about $300,000 annually), which is then turned over to Amherst Media to provide for their programming on three channels, called "PEG Access."
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To be presented at tonight's Select Board meeting