Monday, August 31, 2009

Public Hearing Held In City On Verizon Cable Agreement

Pittsburgh City Council today held a public hearing on the proposed licensing agreement with Verizon Inc. to provide cable service to the city. Over 90 people were registered to speak at the hearing. Many people who were opposed to the agreement were members of Pittsburgh Community TV or PCTV, the city's public access station. The PCTV members were opposed to the licensing agreement because the station receives its funding from a percentage of Comcast Cable revenues and if the agreement with Verizon is approved then it is expected that Comcast's revenues would drop therefore lowering the funding level of PCTV. Part of Verizon's agreement with the city would require them to create PEG (public, educational and government) channels. Comcast operates 3 PEG channels for the city. Also at issue during the meeting were allegations that Verizon uses illegal aliens to construct the infrastructure needed to provide its cable, telephone and Internet services.

City Controller Michael Lamb spoke briefly at the hearing and said that with the increased competition among cable companies the city would see an increase in revenues from the cable companies and possibly a drop in prices as a result of the increased competition. City Council still has to vote on the agreement with Verizon before it is official. Part of the agreement would require that Verizon provide service to the entire city within 6 years and as they build up to providing complete service not discriminate in where they make service available. That means that both more affluent and economically depressed neighborhoods in the city will have equal opportunities to purchase service from Verizon.

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