Cable Commission Community Survey
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FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS PEG?

IS THERE ANY REGULATION TO THE COST OF CABLE SERVICE?

CAN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY DICTATE WHICH SERVICES (CHANNELS) ARE OFFERED TO SUBSCRIBERS?

WHO CONTROLS THE PROGRAMMING ON CIVIC CENTER TV?

DOES COMCAST OFFER A DISCOUNT TO SENIOR CITIZENS?

WHAT IS THE FRANCHISE FEE LISTED ON MY BILL?

IF I BELIEVE MY CABLE RATE IS TOO HIGH, WHAT CAN I DO?

WHY ARE THERE ONLY TWO CABLE COMPANIES IN GREATER WEST BLOOMFIELD?  COULD THERE BE MORE?

WHAT IS PEG?

Local cable television programming, commonly cited by the acronym PEG, has traditionally consisted of public access, educational access, and governmental access.

PUBLIC 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

EDUCATIONAL ACCESS

Channels operated by local school districts to provide programming and information

Channel 7
Bloomfield Hills Schools

Channel 16
Walled Lake Schools (Wednesday – Monday) Farmington Public Schools (Tuesday)

Channel 17
Birmingham Public Schools

Channel 19
West Bloomfield Schools

GOVERNMENTAL ACCESS

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

IS THERE ANY REGULATION TO THE COST OF CABLE SERVICE?

No.  The Telecommunications Act of 1996 dictated that all regulation of cable rates by federal, state, or local government ended on March 31, 1999.

CAN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY DICTATE WHICH SERVICES (CHANNELS) ARE OFFERED TO SUBSCRIBERS?

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.

WHO CONTROLS THE PROGRAMMING ON CIVIC CENTER TV?

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.

DOES COMCAST OFFER A DISCOUNT TO SENIOR CITIZENS?

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.

WHAT IS THE FRANCHISE FEE LISTED ON MY BILL?

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

IF I BELIEVE MY CABLE RATE IS TOO HIGH, WHAT CAN I DO?

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.

WHY ARE THERE ONLY TWO CABLE COMPANIES IN GREATER WEST BLOOMFIELD?  COULD THERE BE MORE?

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.