Amherst Select Board will accept or deny multi-million deal on September 26
The standoff between the town and Comcast for the right to provide 7,000 Amherst residents with more TV channels than they can possibly use escalated a notch on Monday night with new Town Manager Paul Bockelman reporting to the Select Board that Comcast's "final offer" for a ten year contract renewal had gotten a tad better.
The Cable Advisory Committee and Temporary Town Manager Peter Hochenbleikner had negotiated an offer from Comcast that increased the one time capital payment from $450,000 ten years ago to $950,000 now and an additional $10,000 per year in iNet maintenance in years 4 through ten ($70K) paid to the town.
Or a total offer of of just over one million with $950K available for Amherst Media.
The asking price from the CAC -- with much input from our local cable access provider Amherst Media -- was for a one time payment of $2.2 million. Therein lies the battle.
But now the counter offer to avoid a denial of license renewal and expensive time consuming appeal hearing process has escalated to $1.125 million and $25,000 per year years 4 through ten on iNet maintenance.
Or a total offer of $950K for Amherst Media (because now the $175K in iNet maintenance is included in the $1.125 million)
Either way the one time capital payment comes out of the pockets of the 7,000 subscribers.
But the Select Board still fell short of accepting the deal and put off that final decision until their September 26th meeting, which is the final chance to approve/deny the renewal which expires October 15th.
In the meantime they asked the Cable Advisory Committee for their opinion on the counteroffer so that Town Manager Paul Bockelman can decide whether to return to the negotiation table or not.
CAC and Amherst Media (and a Gazette reporter) this morning
This morning the Cable Advisory Committee voted unanimously to ask the Town Manager to seek $1.6625 million in one time capital -- although that includes the $175K paid over seven years for iNet maintenance -- an increase of $500,000 and the guarantee that three PEG channels (Amherst Media) be brought up to HD status.
At the very end of the three hour meeting (scheduled for only two) Amherst Media Director Jim Lescault distributed correspondence that indicated how arduous those closed door negotiation sessions were with charges of homophobia against the town hired attorney by Comcast's negotiator and his physical bullying of ACA Chair Dee Shabazz.