Letter to the editor: Comcast, not MCTV, hikes fees

As chair of the Middlebury Community Television board, I’d like to thank the Addison Independent and John Flowers for summing up the financial challenges facing MCTV and NEAT if the FCC rules are adopted as planned.
The article provided a clear summary of the legal and accounting framework on which public access television relies. There are a couple points worthy of explaining further.
First, the franchise fee is not Comcast’s money, but subscribers’ money (roughly $5 a month per subscriber in Middlebury). This fee promotes government transparency, allows public access to create and broadcast local content, and provides extensive media literacy training through the Ilsley Public Library and the schools. Comcast’s closing quote in the article claims that they are concerned about this increasing cost to the consumer, but does not present the fact that this franchise fee is stable, while Comcast, at the same time, is raising the broadcast TV fee as well as the sports fee, fees which it does control and from which it profits.
Second, a point of clarification: MCTV and the town of Middlebury are each contributing $8000 to the planned purchase of new equipment in the town offices. This cost sharing is due to the fact that the equipment is predominantly used for recording Selectboard, Development Review Board, and other government meetings. The town additionally uses it to record committee meetings for the purpose of taking minutes.
One substantial advantage to the new equipment will be the capability of streaming meeting coverage, so anyone will be able to watch these meetings via the internet. I know Kurt Broderson, the executive director of MCTV, would be happy to show anyone the studio setup and discuss the plans for the new equipment in the town offices.
Len Rowell, chair
Middlebury Community Television

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