Historic City News was notified by City Manager John Regan this morning that yesterday, the City put Comcast “on notice” regarding the continued disruption of broadcast of local government meetings as required by their franchise agreement and state law.
In an e-mail letter to Bill Ferry, Senior Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs for the Florida Region of Comcast Cable in Jacksonville, Regan calls for a “speedy response and a prompt reinstatement of this very important public service” — dealing with one, but not both, interruptions of citizen communications.
“During the City Commission’s discussion of this problem on January 13, it was clear that while failing to broadcast one meeting might be understandable, being in the situation of being off the air for an underdetermined amount of time is not,” Regan wrote. “It is now imperative that immediate action be taken by Comcast to alleviate this problem.”
Historic City News readers became upset with the fact that no one at the City seemed to possess the expertise to reinstate both the “Channel 3” broadcast of public meetings, as well as the simulcast of those meetings over the Internet; both services have been available to residents and the public for years.
Dissatisfaction with the disruption by our readers in response to news articles and editorials, as well as comments on our social media pages, and by the community at large, has grown “exponentially” and, as pointed out in Regan’s letter, “will continue until service is restored”.
Regan is addressing, of course, one side of the problem that has persisted for some eight-weeks; however, the interruption of Internet broadcast has endured for a year. When asked directly, Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson told Historic City News editor Michael Gold last year that the City is gathering proposals from vendors capable of providing Internet streaming of the broadcasts. That greater audience, which would include citizens who are not Comcast subscribers, but who have purchased broadband communications from companies like AT&T, or others, or who may be traveling or live outside the Comcast franchise area, is arguably of equal or greater importance.
“Comcast has still not given any indication as to when this disruption in service will be corrected,” Regan told Ferry. “The City is aware of its right to pursue litigation to enforce Comcast’s obligations.”
Regan did say, at least with respect to the Comcast portion of this “black out”, that he is hopeful that litigation “can be avoided with reasonable cooperation between the parties”. The mayor and commissioners received a copy of Regan’s letter to Ferry.