Comcast franchise agreement renewal on Thursday

On Thursday at 2:00pm, the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee will consider renewal of its franchise agreement with Comcast. A summary of the terms of the renewal is here.  The full franchise agreement is here. The franchise agreement allows Comcast to offer “cable services” within the city limits, which for the purposes of this agreement just includes their video content (not Internet access).  That doesn’t mean Comcast is planning to stop offering Internet; it just means that internet access is covered in a separate franchise agreement.

Most of the terms are the same. Comcast will continue to provide discounted (by 30%) basic-level cable TV service to low-income households who qualify for the city’s Utility Discount program. Comcast will also continue to provide cable TV access to city buildings and schools, and free internet access to qualified nonprofit and community organizations.

Comcast agreed to pay a new fee to support the Seattle Channel and other public-access cable channels, and to provide $50,000 worth of advertising time for the Seattle Channel.

Comcast is expected to pay the city just over $9,000,000 per year (the exact amount varies depending upon their subscriber base). Of note: the current CenturyLink contract requires them to match the fee payment rates that Comcast will be paying the city under this new rate. Wave Broadband’s rates are fixed until November 2017, when their current contract expires.

Approval of this contract requires a public hearing (which Thursday’s meeting satisfies). If you have thoughts about Comcast and its local service, you might want to consider showing up and speaking during the public comment section of the agenda.