Roger L. Stancil, Town Manager




Catherine Lazorko, Town Information Officer




November 20, 2006




Public Forum to Consider a Potential Change in Cablevision Public Access Fees Paid by Cable Television Customers



On November 6, 2006, the Town Council adopted a resolution that called for tonight’s public forum to receive comments on the potential adjustment of the public access fee charged to cable television customers.  The public access fee rate may be:



Following tonight’s forum, we will return to the Council with a follow-up report for consideration on December 4.


“Public access” refers to non-commercial programming, produced or submitted by citizens, to be carried on the cable system.


Notices of tonight’s forum were published in The Chapel Hill News on November 12 and November 19 (Attachment 1), as well as cablecast on The Peoples Channel (Channel 8).




The cable television franchise approved by the Council and accepted by Time Warner Cable in July 1996 allows the Town to have cable customers billed for a public access fee.


The Town began charging a public access fee of 65 cents under a resolution adopted by the Council on November 11, 1996, and amended that amount to:



Under the agreement with The Peoples Channel, the public access fees are transferred to The Peoples Channel to provide public access television services.  The purpose of the public access fee is to help cover wages, equipment, rent and other costs for management and operation of public access cable television services.  The current 76-cent per month public access fee generated $120,507 for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2006.


Each year, the Council decides whether to increase, maintain, or reduce the public access fee. The franchise allows the Town to reduce, eliminate, or increase the public access fee once per year. The increase in a given year is limited to an inflation factor or three percent, whichever is less. The inflation factor is the increase in the most recent Gross National Product-Price Index (GNP-PI) published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis.  According to the Federal Communications Commission, the inflation factor for the previous 12-month fiscal period is 3.3 percent.


A three percent change would result in an increase in the fee from 76 cents to 78 cents per customer per month, beginning January 1, 2006. The increase would raise an additional $3,615 for The Peoples Channel.




We recommend that the Council refer all comments from the forum to the Manager and Attorney.  We will present a final recommendation to the Council at its December 4 meeting.




1.      Public Forum Notice (p. 3).