City of Boston Massachusetts
Office of The Mayor
Office of The Mayor
Comcast 2008 Cable Renewal Hearing
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DATE: July 17, 2002
Mayor Thomas M. Menino today approved the cable television franchise transfer sought by AT&T Corp. for the newly-formed AT&T Comcast Corporation and approved a license amendment aimed at completing the Boston System upgrade, improving customer service, capping rate increases and providing stiffer penalties for non-compliance with license terms. Boston's cable rates are unregulated by federal order.
Mayor Menino said "Approving this transfer was only possible with a strong license that guarantees construction deadlines, local customer service response, and a pledge to halt runaway rate increases.
In return for negotiating the new construction timetable, AT&T Broadband agreed in January 2002 to:
- Reduce the Basic Service Rate (BST) for Boston customers from $9.38 to $7.63.
- Not increase the Basic rate in 2002.
- Not increase the BST Rate between Years 2003 and 2008 by more than 6.5% per year.
- Reduce the final surcharge in the BST Rate for the system upgrade from Cablevision's $2.45 to a new maximum of $1.50 per customer per month in any given year.
- Eliminate any capital surcharge for customers until the system upgrade is completed per Sections 3.2 and 3.4 of the License.
- Continue offering the current $5.00 Senior Citizen Basic Service Discount for the remainder of the term of the current renewal license.
The Franchise Amendment provides definitive completion dates for the cable system rebuild. (11 of 17 neighborhoods are substantively complete with the remaining 6 marked for completion by year's end.) The amendment incorporates tougher reporting standards, specific compliance measures, harsher penalties for non-compliance, and specific requirement for the BHA, North End, Chinatown and other under-served areas.
Through the Amendment, AT&T Broadband will operate 7 neighborhood offices and an expanded Call Center. AT&T is committed to a $250,000 upgrade at their Travis St. facility. They've also increased the facility's workforce by more than 100 staffers following last year's difficulties with outages, customer service and account conversions. The Call & Tech Support Center employs approx. 400 workers. AT&T will also provide a fiber network for city use as a data network across 250 buildings.
July 17, 2002
The impact on a community such as Boston of a cable system's sale and transfer is described as "stepping into the shoes" of the current operator. The concessions, benefits, deadlines and services agreed to by Cablevision in the May 11, 1998 renewal franchise were accepted by AT&T Broadband in their Jan. 5, 2001 license transfer and will be accepted by AT&T Comcast when the merger is completed. The amendments approved today will be incorporated into the existing license.
The impact on programming delivery and local access television should be minimal. No changes in the license are contemplated or capable of being negotiated in this transfer. The license being transferred is held intact and the scope of determination is defined in state law.
The Mass. CMR 207 4.04: Standard of Review for License Transfer states, "In reviewing an application for a transfer or assignment of a license or control thereof, an issuing authority shall consider only the transferee's management experience, technical expertise, financial capability, and legal ability to operate a cable system under the existing license.
Information regarding the cable license transfer filing and the transfer process is available at the City Clerk's Office, Boston City Hall Room 601; & posted on the Internet at: www.cityofboston.gov/cable.