Minutes from March Cable Commission meeting

MINUTES LOUDOUN COUNTY CABLE AND OPEN VIDEO SYTEM COMMISSION Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Loudoun County Cable and OVS Commission met on Wednesday, March 24, 2010, at 7 p.m. in the Lovettsville Room, Loudoun County Government Center. The tape recording constitutes the official minutes of the meeting.

Members present:

Tony Barney, Chairman, Catoctin District Oliver Peters, Leesburg District Dan Moldover, Potomac District Charles Douglas, Blue Ridge District Karen Guthrie, Vice Chairman, Broad Run District Erika Cotti, Dulles District

Rob Cook, Sterling District

Members Absent:

Mike Larson, Public Schools Representative Nicholas Graham, At-Large Michael Wajsgras, Sugarland Run District

Staff:

Lorie Flading, Staff Liaison Jim Barnes, Director, Public Information John Carlton, County Attorney

Franchise Representatives:

Marie Schuler, Comcast Denise Reidy, Verizon Sharon Hawkins, Open Band

Guests

Matt Ames, Miller & Van Eaton Call to Order: 7:05 p.m. by Chairman Tony Barney.

Matt Ames briefly described the relationship between the County and OpenBand and the authority the county has. He said the county does not have the authority to interject itself into an agreement between a homeowners association and a service provider.

OpenBand Performance Evaluation Public Comment: Approximately 25 members of the public attended the meeting, nine members of the public spoke (list of names attached) an additional 14 letters were received prior to the meeting three of which were supportive of OpenBand, the others were not. Eighteen additional letters have been received since the March 24 meeting. They are all in support of OpenBand, customers expressing satisfaction with their performance and service.

Speakers in attendance expressed deep dissatisfaction with OpenBand. Comments included a lack of customer support service in the evenings and on weekends. Dissatisfaction with “outdated equipment” and a dissatisfaction with the picture quality and number of HD offerings. In addition the Lansdowne on the Potomac HOA submitted a statement. (Attached) Their statement identified homeowners’ complaints as limited number of HD channels, outdated equipment, defective equipment and inadequate features.

Following speakers comments an open discussion ensued between commission members and the public.

Commissioner Karen Guthrie was concerned about the technical issues because they were repetitive. Before going forward she suggested a technical review.

Sharon Hawkins, OpenBand was given a chance to respond to the issues and concerns. She said that OpenBand would be happy to look into each person’s complaints and try to work with them to resolve them.

Commissioner Erika Cotti said that the George Mason channel on OpenBand has been black for 5 months. She questioned whether or not that was a breach of the franchise. Commissioner Oliver Peters said that it depends how many PEG channels they are required to carry.

OpenBand OVS Franchise- Chairman Tony Barney suggested that the commission postpone the vote on the franchise until the review is completed.

A motion was made and seconded “Postpone the vote on the OpenBand franchise until 2 weeks after required information has been gathered for the commission to review.” The motion was approved unanimously.

The commission was given the chance to ask questions of the attorneys about the franchise agreement itself. Commissioner Charles Douglas questioned the exclusivity of the OpenBand contract with the HOAs. Matt Ames explained that the easements in Lansdowne are private and the other cable companies cannot cross them. He said there is no Sherman act, nor anti-trust issue.

The commissioners asked about going into closed session to discuss the OpenBand franchise. County attorney John Carlton said that they have to a reason that is in the code, possible litigation does not count.

Minutes: The minutes of the January 13, 2010 meeting were approved.

Comcast Report – Marie Schuler presented the Comcast report. She said that Comcast was introducing new branding X-finty. Loudoun County would be one of the first to get it. A rate increase will go into effect May 1.

Verizon Report – Denise Reidy is the new Verizon service representative. Complaint Report –Ms. Flading presented a complaint report.

Commission Issues/Goals and Objectives 2010- Mr. Douglas suggested that this item be tabled until next meeting.

Meeting adjourned 9:15 p.m.

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