Haverhill has entered into a new 10-year agreement with Comcast which, among other things, provides for a local television channel to use high-definition technology.
Comcast has three years to convert any of the local channels, whether public access, educational or government, to high quality video format. The deal, negotiated by the city’s cable television advisory committee, also requires Comcast to pay 5% of its gross local revenue, currently $1.3 million annually, to support local programming and 1.1 million dollars over the life of the contract for equipment upgrades. In a statement, Mayor James J. Fiorentini stressed that the deal was not exclusive and that the committee was looking for cable and internet competitors.
“They worked very hard to recruit another company to come here so there was competition. They invited companies, interviewed them, but no other companies were interested and only Comcast made an offer. But we are not going to give up on our quest to find another business,” the mayor said.
Fiorentini explained that Verizon and others say they are not expanding into Massachusetts or that coming to Haverhill would be too expensive due to the high cost of laying lines in one of Massachusetts’ largest geographic cities. ‘State. Another oft-cited reason, the mayor said, is that Comcast already has such a large market share that not enough of its nearly 20,000 Haverhill customers can’t be expected to switch to a new provider. to make it profitable.
As WHAV reported in January, the city’s negotiating committee chaired by William Gould had largely reached an agreement with Comcast, but the person sitting across the table, Comcast senior manager Robert F. Sullivan, left to become mayor of Brockton. Gould said the committee and outside counsel worked on the contract for four years.
“Despite evolving federal decisions and changes in cable television viewing habits, I believe we have negotiated the best possible cable license for the people of Haverhill while ensuring that we are able to take advantage of new technologies, services and providers as they become available,” he said.
The $1.1 million — paid in annual installments of $110,000 — for upgrades is dedicated to renovating and upgrading communications equipment in the studios or at City Hall, for example. Comcast will also continue to provide communications, including data, video and telephone services to city offices and school buildings. The so-called “I-Net” package covers 33 buildings over 44 miles.