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Comcast Looks to Renew Contract With Township

A Comcast representative discussed the renewal process with the Committee on Tuesday.

Charles Smith of Comcast speaks at the Jan. 14 Cranford Official Meeting. Credit: Nicole Bitette
Charles Smith of Comcast speaks at the Jan. 14 Cranford Official Meeting. Credit: Nicole Bitette

During Tuesday’s first official meeting of the year, the committee held a hearing on the renewal of Comcast’s cable services in the Township.

Charles Smith, Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs for Comcast, presented the company’s application for renewal, but no action was taken during the meeting. Smith explained that it was an opportunity for the public and commissioners to ask questions.

He explained that the governing body must base its renewal decision on the answers the four following questions:

1. Has the cable operator sustainably complied with the material terms of the existing franchise agreement and applicable laws?

2.  Has the quality of the operator’s service improved, such as the signal quality, response to consumer complaints and billing practices, been reasonable in light of the community needs?

3.
Does the operator have the financial, legal and technical ability to provide and facilitate equipment that is proposing to provide?

4. Is the cable operator’s franchise renewal proposal reasonable to meet the future community needs and interests of the community and taking into account costs of meeting such interests

Smith added that the committee could not consider rates and programming when deciding whether or not to renew.

According to Smith, rates are governed by state and federal statutes and are outside of the municipality’s authority, while the channel lineup is protected by the first amendment.

No members of the public commented on the application, but commissioner Thomas Hannen asked Smith if there is a consideration for those on a fixed income and what the cost for a basic package is. Smith said that a limited basic package is priced at $15.40 and a standard package is $54.05.

The committee did not vote on any aspect of the application.

Check back with Patch for more from Tuesday’s meetings, including the introduction of an ordinance recognizing the Crane-Phillips house as Cranford’s first historical landmark.

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