Verizon Close to Cable Deal: Draft License Agreement Would Give

Verizon close to cable deal: Draft license agreement would give Sudbury extra $100K, local programs

By Stacey Hart / Daily News Staff Sunday, January 22, 2006 - Updated: 12:39 AM EST

SUDBURY -- The town is finalizing a draft cable television license with Verizon, which would require the company to carry Sudbury's local cable channel programming and give the town about $100,000 a year. "They gave us an initial application that was a little light on details," said Jeff Winston, chairman of the Cable Television Committee. In August, the selectmen approved negotiations to begin with Verizon after a request was made by the company to offer cable and Internet services to Sudbury. Comcast is currently Sudbury's cable and Internet provider, and Verizon is the telephone service for the town. Verizon has begun introducing its new fiber-optic services to cities and towns in Massachusetts, which would provide high-speed Internet access, improved telephone service and cable television programming.

The town has until March 6 to submit its proposal. The selectmen plan to discuss and vote on sending the draft license to Verizon at their meeting on Feb. 28 at 7:45 p.m. The cable committee, working with special counsel, presented the selectmen with a draft license at the board's meeting last week. Winston said one thing that guided the committee through drafting a license was making sure there was a level playing field for both Verizon and Comcast.

"If we don't do that, Comcast has some rights that allow them to re-discuss their terms with us," he said. The draft license requires Verizon to provide financial support to the town for its local cable channels, 8 and 9, similar to the support received by Comcast. The Comcast license specifies about $70,000 must be spent annually on the local cable channels, which includes staff salary, benefits, operating expenses, repair, maintenance and technical support. Since Comcast already provides Sudbury with a studio and equipment to tape and broadcast meetings and events, the town is asking Verizon to provide a cash payment equal to those services.

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Monty Solomon
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