Stone, Andrew Barbano (Chairperson), Jackie Inman, Peter Padilla, Kate
Marshall, Noel Thornsberry, and Karol Gorman (arrived late).
I. ROLL CALL
The meeting was called to order at 4:10 p.m. with a quorum of six members
II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
It was asked that the Room number be added to the draft
minutes and they were approved as presented.
III. DISCUSSION, APPROVAL AND FORWARDING OF CCCC BYLAWS TO CITY COUNCIL
The following changes were made to the CCCC By-laws:
In Article II (1) the abbreviation "CAT" was changed to "CATV"
to reflect the proper name, Community Antenna Television. The change
was made throughout the document. During the discussion of this change,
it was noted that the franchise contract encompasses all the services
provided by the franchisee, including, but not limited to, broadband
In Article VII (2): line 3, the word "which" and the two commas
around the word "which" were deleted.
In Article V (4): line 2, the word "at" was added so the sentence
now reads, "A special meeting is held at a time...."
An issue was raised as to when public comments should be heard during
a meeting. Currently, they are listed as the last item on the agenda.
Chairman Barbano stated that public comment may be inserted at any time
during the meeting. Flexibility is key.
A question was raised as to whether public comment can lead to interactive
discussion with the CCCC. Jonathan Shipman stated that he would look
into this issue. Chairman Barbano stated that the Reno City Council
had a three minute rule, which was dispensed with when a citizen was
asked to respond to a council members question.
It was decided that the by-laws do not need to be encumbered with detailed
management rules. Jonathan Shipman stated that if the CCCC sought to
amend the by-laws at a later date they would have to get the amendment
approved by the City Council.
The motion carried to approve the by-laws with the above changes made.
IV. DISCUSSION AND DIRECTION TO STAFF AS TO TIME AND PLACE OF FUTURE
CCCC MEETINGS, AND WHETHER THOSE MEETINGS SHOULD BE TELEVISED ON SNCAT
Ms. Spangler provided
the CCCC with available time slots for future meetings. They were:
1st Wed. @ 2-6:30 pm,
2nd Wed. @ 6 pm,
4th Wed. @ 2-5:30 pm,
4th Thurs. @7 pm; and
2nd or 4th Mon. @ 6 pm.
A discussion was held as to what time would be best for public attendance.
While meetings are ideally around 2 hours there is no scheduled end
time. The fourth Thursday at 6:30 pm was chosen as the first choice
and the fourth Thursday at 7 pm was chosen as the second choice.
Ms. Spangler was asked to determine whether the fourth Thursday at 6:30pm
would be available, to check for alternative dates for November and
December due to holidays, and to ask how SNCAT would slot the tape of
the meeting for re-run. Ms. Spangler was also asked to email the response
to the questions as soon as the information became available.
The Committee unanimously found that its meetings should be televised.
V. PRESENTATION BY LIZ TEIXEIRA, CARSON CITY ASSISTANT TO THE CITY
MANAGER, ON THE ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CARSON CITY CABLE
Ms Teixeira first presented a history of the Committee. She began by
stating that the Carson City Citizens Cable Committee has been put on
indefinite hiatus. At the time it was formed (1992) Carson City did
not have PEG (Public, Educational, Governmental) channels. The Committee
had seven members and began by looking at criteria for public access
television. In 1992, the Cable Access Television Foundation was formed
and granted a service contract to run the public access center. In April,
1993, the Carson City Board of supervisors changed the name of the Citizens
Committee to the Carson City Television Committee, which operated under
Nevadaís Open Meeting law. In 1996, the Committee was instrumental
in getting PEG channels for Carson City up and running. At the same
time, the City was in renegotiations of TCI's franchise agreement. The
City entered an agreement under which TCI gave Carson City $300,000
to meet the capital costs of starting public access channels. This money
was used primarily for equipment costs. TCI received a renewal of its
franchise and the Citizenís Committee began to look at redefining
its role. Administratively, the Citizenís Committee had less
to do. By 1997 the Committee began to have a lot of turnover and attendance
was sparse. In addition, members had a difficult time grappling with
what issues it could legally address. The issue went to the Board of
Supervisors and the Committee was put on hiatus in 1998. Ms. Teixeira
suggested that the Committee stay focused and remain aware of what can
and cannot be done by a Citizen's Committee.
The following questions were asked of Ms. Teixeira:
Did the Committee handle complaints? No, complaints were handed over
to Ms. Teixeira, although a cable representative came to each meeting
and was available to discuss complaints and their resolution. The cable
representative was always the Director of the Cable Company, although
the person who held that position may have changed from time to time.
Ms. Teixeira found the cable company very responsive. Problems arose
with rates and programming, which the Committee wanted to fix, but was
without the legal authority to do so.
Did the Committee stay active with PEG issues? Yes, they stayed involved
but could not attend contract negotiations between Carson City and the
Cable Operator, which was a source of frustration for Committee members.
What are the Citizen's Committees allowed to do? They could take public
comment and pass such comments on to the City Council. They could assist
in ongoing tracking of complaints.
How are Complaints handled in Carson City now? Ms. Teixeira handles
all complaints. On average she receives four to five complaints per
month for a population of 53,000. Ms. Teixeira receives more complaints
during network construction. Steve Wright commented that it was not
unusual for there to be a single person handling all complaints for
a city. Depending on the process it can be done well.
Who enforces the quality of service standards that the Cable Operator
must adhere to under its franchise? Apparently, Charter has open records
for review that the Citizens Committee may review. The CCCC does not
have to look at summary materials, but can review original records.
Would Ms. Teixeira like to see the Citizen's Committee reinstated? If
the Committee came back then I could see the Committee take public comment.
Currently, Carson City is in renegotiation of its contract with Charter
Communications. There is no draft of the franchise proposal at this
time, but Ms. Teixeira agreed to send a copy to Ms. Spangler to be distributed
to the CCCC when a proposal is available. One of the issues of negotiation
is the proposed length of the contract.
What did you do, if anything, where three persons with the same complaint
received disparate treatment? Ms. Teixeira did not know because she
was unaware of the specific circumstances. However, whenever a complaint
was received she would right it down and follow up with how it was handled
and report to the Citizen's Committee each month on the previous 30
days of complaints.
Ms. Inman stated that the members of CCCC have all been put on a priority
list so that when we call the call center with a problem then Charter
is supposed to respond immediately. CCCC members will be considered
monitors. The call in number is: 850-8555.
The CCCC would like to establish a relationship with Charter, the Reno
Cable Operator to keep abreast of what the company is doing regarding
performance and rates and service quality. To this end, the CCCC would
like to make constructive suggestions to Charter.
VI. PRESENTATION BY MARSHA BERKBIGLER, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS,
CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS, ON WHEN AND WHERE THE EXISTING CABLE SYSTEM
WILL BE UPGRADED.
Ms. Berkbigler began by providing information on the current network
upgrade. She stated that all the nodes within the Reno City limits have
been upgraded, but not all of them have been turned up. In areas, such
as Stead the nodes may not all have been upgraded. The target completion
date for the Reno upgrade is the end of March. All subscribers will
be on the master head, which is a state of the art piece of equipment.
Ms. Berkbigler commented that there are only five such master heads
in the country currently running. Once the upgrade is complete, every
town will have the same channel line up. The first community that will
be on the master head will be Fallon in July, 2003. Reno and Sparks
The following questions were asked of Ms. Berkbigler:
Who decides what channels will be available in what price package? If
it is above a BASIC package, the decisions are made by Corporate, although
the local management may have some discretion. Ms. Berkbigler commented
that the local Charter management has very little authority over programming
packages and offerings because they have been addressed at the corporate
What do you do when there are so many senior citizen subscribers who
cannot afford anything above BASIC? Charter is looking at a "skinny
BASIC" which will have the "must carry"
channels on it such as CNN, the PEG channels, etc. Then, Charter will
sell the digital product in subject groupings, such as a Sports Tier,
a Spanish Tier, a Family Tier. Skinny BASIC will address
those types of subscribers that want clear television reception, but
cannot afford cable service.
Does the Cable network still provide analog service? The whole town
has digital capability, but services may be presented to the subscriber
in analog format. Analog BASIC is $12.34 and Extended BASIC is approximately
Can Charter make a presentation to the CCCC regarding how the Cable
network works, how packaging is done, etc? Charter can bring someone
in to describe a generic network and what issues Charter sees coming
down the road, but they will not provide information on packaging, pricing,
decision making, etc.
An issue was raised regarding packaging and rate issues for senior citizens.
Chairman Barbano stated that the CCCC would provide Charter with feedback
on this issue, once the CCCC got a handle of how Charter did its packaging
and set its rates. Ms. Berkbigler said she would be glad to take such
An issue was raised regarding disparate treatment of similarly situated
customers. Ms. Berkbigler was asked how many customer service representatives
are available per shift and whether they were given leeway in responding
to complaints. Ms. Berkbigler stated she would get the information on
number of customer service representatives. Customer service representatives
are allowed to give a rebate for any service outage over two hours,
but they are given discretion as to when to apply such rebate. Factors
taken into consideration are: whether the customer has recently received
a rebate, what level of service the customer is paying for (the higher
the subscription, the greater the rebate because it is based on a percentage).
Thus, if your Cable is out for a day, you may only get $1/credit if
you pay $30/month.
The CCCC asked for a copy of Charter's rebate credit policy and would
like information on how this policy is implemented so that it can be
determined whether Charter is consistent in applying the credit policy.
Charter agreed to attend every meeting. Ms. Berkbigler also agreed to
provide responses to CCCC requests to the extent she could do so legally.
Ms. Berkbigler stated that Charter was now offering Broadband data services
to businesses within the City of Reno and Sparks. She did not know what,
if any, expansion plans the company has.
Ms. Berkbigler stated that satellite has 20% penetration rate in this
(City of Reno) market, while Charter has only 50% penetration. In the
late 70-80s, the penetration rates were higher. Indeed, in the greater
Northern Nevada market the penetration rate is approximately 65%. Three
out of four consumers who are going to buy a programming service are
going to buy satellite. Steven Wright stated that the City cannot legally
tell Charter what it has to offer to its subscribers. The City can make
recommendations and people can vote by taking Charter's service or going
elsewhere. He believes the senior citizens should get together and go
to their apartment manager and state that they want a change in service
An issue was raised as to whether Charter does customer satisfaction
reports. Ms. Berkbigler does not believe that a customer satisfaction
survey has been done. They are generally done during cable franchise
renewal by the City. In some franchise contracts such surveys are required
once every three years. Ms. Berkbigler was asked about internal quality
of service reporting regarding customer satisfaction. She stated that
she did not believe there was any process in place to monitor quality
of service. Steven Wright stated that he felt it was a good business
practice to determine what your customers want. He mentioned that Cox
has such internal reporting. Ms. Berkbigler stated that Charter did
do it on the spot sometimes, but she did not know if there was a log
kept of customer responses. Ms. Berkbigler was asked to provide an overview
of what information is kept by Charter and in what format it is available
on quality of service matters.
What is the procedure for Charter picking up a digital box if the customer
requests termination? Charter has a seven day turnaround requirement
in its franchise agreement. An issue was raised as to whether Charter
was meeting this requirement.
VII. PRESENTATION BY FRED FICHMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE MEDIA CENTER,
ON THE CURRENT OPERATION AND FUTURE GOALS OF THE MEDIA CENTER.
Mr. Fichman presented the following information:
SNCAT cable casts channels 13, 16 and 17, the PEG channels. Channel
15 is a PEG channel but is not currently in use. SNCAT casts programs
in English, Spanish and occasionally in other languages. They provide
the production, facilities and manpower for the broadcast of government
meetings, public programming, arts programming, and for producers who
bring in their own programming. SNCAT allows private citizens to borrow
equipment and make and edit their own programs. They provide technical
advice to the City of Reno's consultant, Dr. Sepe. They also will be
assisting Washoe County's consultant in its process of renewing its
franchise. SNCAT has contracts with the cities of Reno and Sparks, as
well as greater Washoe County. They provide independent production ability
to Truckee Meadows Water Authority, Airport Authority, the Washoe County
School district, and the Visitor's Convention Center. They will broadcast
meetings for those entities. Some entities they will feed live, but
it cannot be done where there is no insertion point or cable that ties
back to SNCAT. If the CCCC wants to go live they will have to meet in
the City Council's meeting room. The media center contract with Reno
is coming up for renewal at the end of June. SNCAT would like to renew
the contract and will have their annual report ready for a meeting with
The media center needs substantive equipment upgrades, including cameras
and video tape recorders. They need all digital video tape recorders
to hit the connection to Charter's head end with a signal as clean as
possible. They do have fiber optic transmission from their location
to Charter, but the equipment needs to be upgraded. The media center
is looking for another facility because the current facility does not
meet the needs of the media center should the media center get its equipment
upgrades. Staffing is sufficient at the media center.
The media center requires persons to have training before being allowed
access to digital cameras. The media center is located at 4024 Kietzke
in the Crossroads Shopping Center. The website is http://www.sncat.org.
Their phone number is 775-882-1211. They are open 9-5 although production
goes until 10pm. It costs $140 and three Saturdays to learn the soup
to nuts of using cameras, editing and putting shows together. There
are other classes that teach specific thing like how to use a field
camera, how to do television direction, etc. A single class costs approximately
SNCAT cannot broadcast pornographic material, medical procedures, spots
that attempt to sell products or services, or threatening material.
Furthermore, they have not broadcast political campaign materials. This
is a change from the early days of SNCA, when they allowed political
messages to be broadcast. If the material is questionable, it will be
broadcast during graveyard hours. For 95% of the cases, the media center
does not make content judgments.
The media center is funded through the general fund, which receives
money from the Franchise fee with the cable operator.
Mr. Fichman has been the Executive Director for six months.
SNCAT is under the umbrella of the media center. There is convergence
of technologies going on in the communications industry, and the media
center is trying to meet other needs in addition to the services provided
by SNCAT such as archival media capabilities. The media center could
go "all digital" and put everything on hard drives, but it
would take money that the media center doesnít have at this time.
Of course, it is on the list that Dr. Sepe received.
At this point, Mr. Shipman commented that Dr. Sepe's draft report is
VIII. DISCUSSION AND DIRECTION TO STAFF REGARDING THE CABLE COMPLAINT
Chairman Barbano stated that the CCCC needed to create sub-committees.
He commented that due to his position as Chair he was an ex-officio
member of each sub-committee.
Jonathan Shipman stated that a sub-committee whose members make a quorum
of the CCCC must comply with the Open Meeting Law. Mr. Shipman recommended
that all meetings, regardless of whether a quorum was reached comply
with the Open Meeting Law.
A question was raised as to whether four members could go to Charter's
headquarters to review complaints without violating the Open Meeting
Law. Mr. Shipman stated that the four members could go to Charter's
headquarters to review complaints, but recommended that such a meeting
be noticed and an agenda be provided. Mr. Shipmanís motto is,
"when in doubt, comply with the Open Meeting Law."
Mr. Wright stated that he would be working closely with Ms. Spangler
to process complaints regarding Charter's service. He would report back
to the CCCC with an outline of their proposals and what processes they
intended to put in place.
A question was raised as to why Sparks isn't represented in the CCCC?
Chairman Barbano stated that he had attempted to establish contact with
both Sparks and Washoe County. Sparks needs to form its own committee
and Chairman Barbano was seeking information as to who were the members
of the Washoe County Committee.
The following sub-committees were established:
The first sub-committee established was the Complaint Committee chaired
by Ms. Inman and staffed by Ms. Stone and Ms. Gorman.
The second sub-committee established was the Charter Operations Committee
chaired by Mr. Thornsberry and staffed by Mr. Padilla and Ms. Gorman.
This Committee would analyze the technical aspects such as Charter's
ability to provide a credit for a five minute outage as well as pricing
and programming issues.
The third sub-committee established was the Communications Committee
to reach out to other Citizen Committees on the local and national level.
The Committee is chaired by Ms. Marshall and staffed by Mr. Thornsberry
and Ms. Stone
The CCCC was encouraged to read Dr. Sepe's report, which was handed
out at the meeting, and the Complaint Committee was encouraged to begin
researching Charter's Complaint log.
The agenda for the next meeting should include a presentation of Dr.
Sepe's report. Mr. Wright commented that Dr. Sepe's report was a needs
assessment, which he viewed as a wish list.
IX. PUBLIC COMMENT
None were offered.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 6:30 p.m.