TOWNSEND — Residents who have comments, questions or concerns about the Comcast service in town will have the opportunity to have their voices heard today a public hearing as the town continues to negotiate a contract with the cable-TV provider.
Town Administrator Andy Sheehan said that according to state statute, the town must hold a public hearing before it enters into a cable franchise agreement with any provider.
The 10-year-contract the town had with Comcast ended in the summer of 2012. Comcast has been operating under the same general agreement since.
“There haven’t been any issues as far as I’m aware of,” Sheehan said. “It’s just an opportunity for the public to chime in and let us know how they feel. Generally, the complaints have been few and far between.”
Usually, Sheehan said, complaints are filed with Comcast, but in the instance that customers are unable to receive help from Comcast or are not satisfied with the response given, they’ll call the town.
Typically, a municipality’s agreement with a cable franchise can range in years from three to 10, he said.
The new agreement will likely include a non-exclusion clause that would allow another cable company, such as Verizon, to come into town and set up business without being blocked by Comcast.
Currently, Verizon does not operate in town. If the company opted to come into town, Sheehan said, it would need to go through the same process with the town before any contract was executed.
Sheehan said Comcast annually pays the town 1.5 percent of its gross annual revenues in town as part of the contract. In fiscal 2013, Comcast paid a franchise fee of $42,285.66 to the town.
The public hearing begins at 7 p.m., at Town Hall.
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