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Cable TV Report Blasts Spectrum for Contract Failures, Price Increases

By Tom Marino | March 18, 2024
Last Updated: March 18, 2024

WORCESTER – The Worcester Cable Advisory Committee’s Ascertainment Report Recommendations says that Spectrum ” have objectively, from any and all perspectives, failed to live up to the terms of their contract.”

This Week in Worcester previously reported that the five members of the committee present on Tuesday, March 12, voted unanimously to approve the recommendations being sent to City Manager Eric Batista.

The report also concludes that, “at a bare minimum this [Spectrum] franchise does not meet the needs of the city population.” City Manager Eric Batista should “waste no time in denying this license,” to operate cable television services in the city if its “recommendations are not met, and embraced warmly by Spectrum,” according to the report. It also says that the “City Manager does not have to wait for the company to begin the process of denial,” and that “process is governed by federal regulators, who would force Spectrum into providing the clearly hidden documentation as a part of that process.”

One example of that alleged hiding documentation, according to the report, is that Spectrum claims in the 11 years of its current franchise contract with the City that only 35 customer services calls have been escalated. The report calls Spectrum’s claim absolutely ridiculous.

The Committee members also concludes that Spectrum, “in fact fears the long drawn-out process of denial at the federal level.”

The Worcester Cable Advisory Committee provides written recommendations to the city manager on the decision to renew or deny the franchise agreement between the city and cable television providers in the city. The report its review has been a four-year effort.

The report includes both conclusions and recommendations from the board. It’s conclusions are:

  • Cable television is going away, and the City should carefully consider the impact of disappearing Franchise fees over the next Contract term;
  • The relationship with and business practices of Spectrum (Charter) Communications are at an all-time low;
  • The cost of cable television is increasing at an alarming rate, and Spectrum is showing little interest in addressing this;
  • Television Service cancellations are unlikely to change;
  • The staff of the three city’s Public, Educational, and Governmental Access Channels (PEGs) channels demonstrate commitment and creativity in meeting their constituents needs; and
  • The City should be dogged in its attempts to get proper funding from Spectrum.

The Committee also made the following recommendations:

  • A financial plan should be developed to ensure funding levels for the PEGs can be met over the contract term;
  • Spectrum should be charged for ongoing capital costs related to the television portion of the PEGs;
  • If renewed, Spectrum should be required to meet with the City’s Cable Television Committee on a schedule determined by that Committee;
  • There should be financial penalties for Spectrum failing to meet its obligations under a new agreement;
  • The City should get Spectrum to agree to a fixed price television service for seniors;
  • The City should consider a program to offer free or reduced cost Roku boxes to help citizens cut out the cost of cable boxes from their bill;
  • There should be a clear, easy to access the senior citizen and disability discounts;
  • The Cable Advisory Cable Committee should be changed to the City Cable Commission that will have complete oversight in coordination with the city manager and city cable services of the cable contract with Spectrum and any other entity serving the city in all communication/entertainment formats utilizing city infrastructure;
  • The included revenues and the resulting payments should be regular, at least quarterly provided.

The report also says that the estimate for this year’s payment of franchise fees to the city has still not been received by the city, despite an extension enacted in October.

The full seven page report is available for review.


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