Study of municipal broadband more urgent with damaging changes in cable TV funding
Cambridge has, historically, negotiated aggressively and successfully its franchise agreement with its cable television provider, Comcast. This has allowed Cambridge to retain the maximum amount of revenue as permitted by federal law to fund its public interest, educational and government channels such as Cambridge Community Television and 22-CityView. As your article (“With less money coming from Comcast fees, city looks at merging cable access channels,” Dec. 8) notes, that revenue is shrinking due to lower subscriptions to cable television and may shrink even more as the Federal Communications Commission considers rewriting accounting rules to allow Comcast, an already immensely profitable company, to keep more of our money.
Upgrade Cambridge, again, calls on the city manager to do an economic study of municipal broadband called for by the Broadband Task Force. We believe that a municipal broadband system will generate substantial revenue that would first be used to fund installation and operating costs. But, by keeping this revenue local, rather than sending it to Comcast and its shareholders, we believe it could also be used to fund PEG services such as CCTV and 22-CityView. An economic feasibility study would provide the foundation for a new path forward for community media in Cambridge. We invite Cambridge residents who agree to sign our petition calling on the manager to move forward.
Saul Tannenbaum is a resident of Cambridge and co-founder of Upgrade Cambridge. He was a member of the Municipal Broadband Task Force upand Envision Cambridge Working Group.