On Monday, August 15, the Amherst Select Board rejected the Comcast franchise proposal and sent the contract back for further negotiations.
After hearing from Cable Advisory Committee Chair Demetria Shebazz and Amherst Media Executive Director Jim Lescault and some discussion, the Board felt there were unaddressed needs as expressed in the public ascertainment process, including high-definition transmission and having Amherst Media’s programming on the Electronic Program Guide, and the necessary capital to meet the communities needs over the next 10 years. Comcast had raised their capital offering to $950,000 up from their initial proposal of $450,000, but well below the $2.2 million identified by Amherst Media to meet the community needs.
Text of the Select Board's motion:
Voted that the Town Manager communicate to our counsel that the Select Board is not satisfied with the proposed contract with Comcast because of the need for a more specific understanding about the availability of high definition and electronic program guide for PEG channels and our conclusion that the proposed capital budget does not meet our community's needs and expectations as expressed through the ascertainment process and our knowledge of community needs.
UPDATE: New story by Scott Merzbach in the August 19th Daily Hampshire Gazette covers the story with a level of detail.
(photo by Larry Kelley)