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STATEMENT: On the City Council Resolution Calling for Council Hearings on Historic Comcast Communications Franchise

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Contact:  Hannah Sassaman, 267 970 4007hannah@mediamobilizingproject.org

Today, Councilman Bobby Henon introduced, and City Council passed, a resolution authorizing the committees on Public Property and Public Works, and on Technology and Information Services, to hold hearings on a once-in-a-generation negotiation with the Comcast Corporation.

This resolution is passed at a time when myriad community groups are pushing the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT) to release a long-awaited summary of a comprehensive needs assessment they conducted; an assessment surveying Philadelphia residents on their communications needs. In their survey, OIT, working with an independent contractor, asked Philadelphians many questions about their experiences with Comcast. Thousands of people responded to the city’s needs assessment survey, on paper, by phone, or online.

As Comcast’s 15-years-old cable franchise agreement with Philadelphia expires in 2015, the data respondents provided to the City will inform officials as they begin negotiations for a new contract between Comcast and the City; a contract that could allow Comcast to secure near-monopoly access to Philadelphia homes and businesses for another 15 years. 

The statement below, released in response to the introduction and passage of this resolution, can be attributed to Hannah Sassaman, Policy Director at Media Mobilizing Project.

“The City of Philadelphia has done important work surveying Philadelphia communities, asking consumers to answer important questions about Comcast prices, service, access, and accountability in Philadelphia.

We’ve spoken to hundreds of people across Philadelphia, and collected thousands of petition signatures online, from Philadelphians who are very interested in speaking out about what they need from Comcast if our city is to grant them another 15-year deal to sell services here.

We’ve waited for well over a year to release the answers to these questions – and to begin the formal process of negotiating a new deal with Comcast. We congratulate Councilman Henon for introducing and Council for passing a resolution authorizing hearings on these issues in City Council  We are pushing the City to release this needs assessment data now – and look forward to public hearings where regular people can speak out about what we need from Comcast.

As the leaders of the CAP Comcast campaign, we say: we need affordable cable and internet services in the poorest big city in America, real choices and competition in our communications market, and a Comcast that pays its fair share for schools and services in Philadelphia as a condition of any new franchise agreement.”

CAP Comcast is a new campaign focused on helping Philadelphia communities work with the City of Philadelphia to secure the affordable rates, resources, and competition we need in our communications systems.  Campaign endorsers include the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Philadelphia Student Union, the 20-plus organization Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools, Maypop, Liberty Resources, ACTION United, Pennsylvania Working Families, Media Mobilizing Project, Philadelphia Jobs with Justice, Prometheus Radio Project, and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, with more signing on weekly. Visit the campaign at http://www.capcomcast.org.

Media Mobilizing Project collaborates with poor and working people to tell the untold stories that help end poverty.  MMP helped lead a process that secured millions in federal stimulus funds for Philadelphia partners aimed at ending the digital divide.  In March 2013, MMP helped bring the public’s attention to the fact that Comcast had spent over $100,000 to block City Council’s bill to expand paid sick days to hundreds of thousands of Philadelphia workers. To learn more about Media Mobilizing Project, visit http://www.mediamobilizing.org or email info@mediamobilizing.org.

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On March 26, 2015
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