Pursuant to state statute, the cable television license agreement only covers certain cable television related matters and does not provide local authority to negotiate internet service, phone service, cable television rates and tiers or television programing.
Below are some of the major items that were negotiated in the cable license renewal with Comcast to benefit the City of Springfield:
- Comcast Customer Service Center in Springfield – will maintain and operate the Comcast Customer Service Center located in Springfield for the entire 10-year term
- Non-exclusive cable license agreement with Comcast – will allow potential other cable providers/operators to negotiate cable television franchise license with the city
- No caps on liquidated damages if Licensee (Comcast) defaults in the performance of provisions of the renewal license, with exception as excused by Force Majeure
- Comcast will continue to provide Public, Educational and Governmental Access Channels (PEG) through Focus Springfield, the public access television operator
- Provide a total of four (4) PEG access channels; two (2) High-Definition (HD) PEG access channels and two (2) Standard Definition (SD) PEG access channels
- Will offer free HD cable television boxes to residents/subscribers who do not have a HD television
- Comcast will connect the new Focus Springfield PEG access studio when they relocate to their new studio location on Bridge Street at no cost to the city, Focus Springfield or Springfield subscribers
- Comcast will provide free installation of cable TV drops and connections at public buildings (schools, community centers, neighborhood libraries, etc.), at no cost
- Franchise fee will remain at 2% - Mayor reserves the right to increase the license fee at any time, upon written notice to Comcast, up to .75%, and no more than 3 times during the 10-year license term
In addition, Mayor Sarno negotiated a separate agreement with Comcast to lower the eligibility age of the senior discount from 65 to 62.
Mayor Sarno states, “First of all, I want to thank Deputy City Solicitor Kathleen Breck, our outside legal counsel Attorney Peter Epstein and my Communications Director Bill Baker for their efforts throughout this process to reach a fair and reasonable deal with Comcast. Per state statute, I only have the legal authority to negotiate terms for a cable television license agreement that only covers cable television related matters such as the franchise fee rate and our PEG access channels through Focus Springfield that broadcast our local municipal government meetings such as City Council and School Committee meetings and other public and educational programing on our dedicated public access channels. All other matters such as internet service, potential data cap limits and fees, cable television programing tiers, bundles and pricing, and cable television programing content are beyond our local authority and fall under the auspices of the state Department of Telecommunications and Cable and Federal Communications Commission (FCC).”
“My administration is committed to securing the best possible cable television franchise license agreement for the benefit of our City,” Mayor Sarno continued. “These negotiations were long and arduous but in the end we were able to come to an agreement on issues that are very important to the City and reach a plausible compromise on other items that support the cable related needs of our community. It is important to note that this 10-year cable renewal license with Comcast is nonexclusive and I would welcome negotiations with any competitive cable operators and providers.”
The cable television franchise license agreement with Comcast expired on December 26, 2021, when negotiations reached an impasse. Upon continued negotiations, an accord was reached between the City of Springfield and Comcast.
In addition, Mayor Sarno continues to support the feasibility study for the City of Springfield to establish its own municipal fiber network. Under the directions of Mayor Sarno, CAFO TJ Plante, CDO Tim Sheehan and CIO Andrew Doty continue to review and explore the cost associated with establishing a municipal fiber-to-the-home internet network.
“Thanks to Congressman Richard Neal’s leadership and efforts, not only on the federal ARPA funding but also the federal infrastructure bill, now is the time to explore the municipal broadband initiative,” Mayor Sarno continued. “I want to thank the City Council, especially Councilor Jesse Lederman for their/his continued support of this initiative. My administration is committed to advancing this feasibility study to assess how best to position the City of Springfield for the future and for the betterment of our residents and business community so that they have a good, reliable and affordable connection to high speed internet which has become a necessity this day and age.”