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Comcast customers not getting money’s worth | Letters | April 8
Why the council on Oct. 12, 2010 voted to exercise the termination clause (9.2) in the BITV/COBI contract and not the re-opener renegotiation clause (9.3), I will never understand. But it did, and thereby forced the elimination of a much appreciated community asset. Over 70 community organizations aired programs in 2010 on BITV.
Now to pour salt on the community wound, COBI is attempting to claim BITV equipment and assets.
There is no language in the COBI/BITV contract that implies, in any way, COBI ownership of BITV equipment or assets. In fact the opposite is intended in paragraph 10.3, “No Relationship Established: The City shall in no event be deemed to be a partner, associate, or joint venturer of BITV.”
And like all good contracts, paragraph 10.9 states, “Entire Agreement: This Agreement contains all of the covenants, promises, agreements and conditions, either oral or written, between the parties with respect to the subject matter of the Agreement.”
COBI counsel Jack Johnson is correct in saying, “Nothing in the contract ever gave BITV ownership of the equipment.” Ownership of the equipment is not mentioned at all, and as paragraph 10.9 says the promises, agreements and conditions in the agreement are the total agreement.
My fellow Comcast cable customers, how much do you think we are paying COBI each year? There are 4,600 of us on the island. Take a look at your invoice. There is the $1 PEG (Public, Education, Government) fee, which must, according to the Comcast/COBI franchise agreement and federal law, be used only for capital expenses related to PEG access television. That is $55,200 a year.
Then there is a 5 percent of gross revenue franchise fee, which is $244,000. Plus there is the “local tax” of 6 percent, which generates $292,000. Other franchisors do not charge a local tax.
My revenue numbers may not be exact but they are close, and I welcome a correction from COBI if they are not.
The 4,600 of us are paying the city $591,000 a year. What are we getting for it? A delayed airing of a council meeting on channel 12.
Is it necessary for COBI to harass a now defunct organization and threaten “legal actions against BITV,” as reported in the Review of April 1? What is our $591,000 doing? It certainly could buy a few cameras.
If any of you fellow Comcast cable customers would like to pass on your comments to council, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. One email will automatically go to each of them.
Former BITV board chair