New Comcast agreement approved

FLINT TWP. — The township board of trustees approved a ten-year renewal franchise agreement with Comcast.

It is a uniform agreement to comply with a state law passed in 2007, said John Gardner, Comcast director of external affairs, who attended the Monday night board meeting to explain the new contract.

The new contract sets the franchise fee at 5 percent of gross revenues, the allowed cap under federal law. The township has the option to set fees at zero to five percent. It also sets the rate for a PEG fee at .21 percent. Public, educational, and government access (PEG) fees are returned to the township for disbursement mostly to local school districts to support communications activities. Carman-Ainsworth, Flushing and Swartz Creek school districts each receive proportionate amounts of PEG funding.

The previous franchise agreement included a PEG fee of $1.75 per subscriber, per year, which equated to .21 percent of gross revenues.

Franchise fees are paid to the township (the local franchising authority) to compensate for Comcast’s use of the public telecommunications right-of-way or easements where telephone or electronic communication poles are located.

PEG fees help fund equipment and programming for community broadcast operations such as those at public schools.

Trustee George Menoutes asked if the contract term could be shortened to five years.

Gardner said no, the 10-year term is stipulated by the uniform contract set forth by the Michigan Public Service Commission.

“There is no wiggle room for the township for the next ten years,’’ Menoutes complained.

Gardner said the Uniform Video Service Local Franchise Agreement is the same as one that its competitors would present to the board.

Township Supervisor Karyn Miller added that the contract had been reviewed and approved by the township attorney. Fees are in accordance with those received from franchises with other companies such as AT & T U-verse.

The agreement defines gross revenue and sets quarterly payments to the township.

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