FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Local cable television programming, commonly cited by the acronym PEG, has traditionally consisted of public access, educational access, and governmental access.
Operated by Comcast
Community bulletin board (fax information to 313.406.4933)
Residents of the four communities may produce programming and submit it to Comcast for cablecast on Channel 18
Channels operated by local school districts to provide programming and information
Bloomfield Hills Schools
Walled Lake Schools (Wednesday – Monday) Farmington Public Schools (Tuesday)
Birmingham Public Schools
West Bloomfield Schools
Civic Center TV
Comcast Channel 15 and AT&T Channel 99
A channel operated by the local communities, providing governmental information and live coverage of meetings
No. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 dictated that all regulation of cable rates by federal, state, or local government ended on March 31, 1999.
Cable operators (Comcast and AT&T locally) have a First Amendment right to decide which services are included on the system. Local communities have control only of the local PEG channels.
The four communities agreed in 1992 to share a community/municipal information channel and directed in 2001 that the Cable Commission operate the channel. For more information, go to civiccentertv.com.
As a matter of corporate policy, Comcast does not offer discounts based on age, income level, or other special needs. The company does offer discounts where dictated by franchise agreements which were negotiated by local communities with other cable operators and then transferred to Comcast. Those agreements may include a direct requirement that certain discounts be offered or a provision requiring that Comcast match discounts offered by a competitor.
The payments are part of the company’s franchise agreement obligations to the local community, payments for use of the community’s public rights-of-way. They are a cost of doing business in the same way a retail store pays rent for space. In the case of products sold at retail, all the merchant’s costs of doing business (rent, utilities, transportation, etc.) are included in the cost of the product. In the case of cable, the FCC has ruled that companies may itemize these costs of doing business when they bill subscribers.
The franchise fee for Greater West Bloomfield subscribers is 7.85%.
• 5.25% of gross revenue for use of rights-of-way, 5% dictated by the franchise agreement and .25% the result of the operator’s collection of the 5% and 5% of that figure (5% of 5%), based on a federal court ruling
• 2% of gross revenue for support of local cablecasting, specifically the local government information service, Civic Center TV
• .6% – collection of franchise fees from subscribers on revenue received from other sources (advertising, home shopping commissions, etc), again pursuant to a federal court ruling
As you would for any other household expenditure, review the alternatives. Comcast Xfinity cable service is available to all Greater West Bloomfield residents, and AT&T U-verse cable service is available to many, but not all (state law, Public Act 480, 2007, does not require a cable operator to serve all residents in a local community). Each company is interested in retaining its subscribers and often provides promotional offers for a limited period of time. Contact your current company (Comcast at 888.266.2278, AT&T at 800.288.2020) and discuss your bill, focusing on the services you want and the price you are willing to pay. Talk to the other company and compare their price for the same services. And talk to your neighbors about their provider and what they are paying for cable service.
Each of the four communities has non-exclusive agreements with Comcast and AT&T and would welcome any number of additional competitors. Comcast (successor to Continental Cablevision and MediaOne) has the advantage of being in the communities first. AT&T was able to leverage its telephone infrastructure already in place to create a competing cable system. Any other entrant would need to construct an entire new system from scratch, and the cost would be higher than in many other areas due to larger lots, lakes to build around, and miles of underground wiring. It is for this reason that no other company has expressed interest in building systems anywhere in western Oakland County.