Report from the Feb. 10 Cable Commission meeting (re: RCN & CAN TV)

Posted by Mitchell - February 11, 2004 (entry 147)

(originally published on the Chicago Indepdent Media Center, Feb. 11, 2004)

Some 120 citizens attended the Feburary 10 City Cable Commission meeting, at the Harold Washington Library Center in downtown Chicago.

The main issue at the meeting was the $215,000 default by the cable company RCN to Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV)--which is now increased by another $19,000 since RCN didn't pay a second time.

To address the issue, the Commission voted on two resolutions: Resolution 807 and 808.

Resolution 807 condemned RCN's default and urged RCN to make its due payment to "in the strongest possible terms" (borrowing from the language in the resolution). Resolution 807 passed unanimously, with a round of applause from the audience.

Resolution 808 referred to noncompliance by RCN of past construction contracts with the city. 808 gave RCN the deadline of February 20 to comply. Fines at that point (including retroactive ones) may then be applied at that point. 808 also unanimously passed, but with some hesitation from two commissioners.

It didn't seem to this Indymedia reporter that any specific action was taken pertaining to fines against the RCN default, but I'm open to correction on this point.

The commission emphasized to the audience that the city has a bond and a letter of credit from RCN totalling more than $3 million which can be used to forestall any immediate funding shortfalls.

The commission dealt with a number of old and new points before discussing these resolutions. Some participants speculated that the meeting was intentionally organized as such to dissuade people who would be taking time off form work from staying and offering public comment. Whether this was intentional or not, a number of people did leave well before the meeting's conclusion after nearly two hours.

One positive note: The commission did point out that claims of poverty from RCN were spurious. One of the members of the cable commission brought to the commission's attention the fact that RCN is involved in establising digital television installations in at least five cities nationwide with costs of some $245 million.

Another positive note: The size of the attending crowd forced the meeting to be held in the Center's main basement auditorium, in contrast to the studio where the most recent meeting (January 13) which held about 25 people. The commission was forced to abbreviate public comment time, in order to hear as many nonredundant comments as possible. Most of the comments emphasized time and again the vital resource that CAN TV provides to the Chicago community.

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