It appears Comcast has averted a brief setback in its efforts to secure a 10-year renewal agreement to provide cable television service in Seattle. City Council technology committee chair Bruce Harrell said he was prepared to yank the proposed agreement currently under consideration after reports of other cities were getting far more robust digital equity commitments from the cable service provider.
But Harrell was back before City Council Monday to announce Comcast had agreed to bolster Internet and television access in the city.
“At the end of the day, this is an unprecedented community benefits package for Seattle,” said Harrell. “We fought hard to the very end to increase benefits for our seniors, youth, low-income households, and all of our residents.”
Council members ended up delaying final approval of the franchise agreement for one more week until Comcast submitted its equity commitments in writing.
Here is what Comcast has agreed to:
- 600 free cable modem Internet connections to non-profit organizations serving Seattle residents, valued at approximately $10 million. These connections help increase digital equity by increasing the number of sites where the public can access the Internet.
- Approximately $8 million to support public, education, and government television cable channels, including the Emmy award-winning Seattle Channel.
- Free cable television service to government and school facilities, valued at more than $2 million.
- Discounted basic cable television service for low-income households.
Here are more of the issues the Seattle City Council is talking about this week. If you see something you like, or something you don’t, you can find contact information for council members at seattle.gov/council.
- Convention Center: Developers of the $1.4 billion convention center expansion are meeting with transportation committee members Tuesday to discuss early planning of the project. Council members may discuss what additional community benefits developers must put forward for taking over a handful of alleys and streets.
- Backyard cottages: As part of Mayor Murray’s plan to create 50,000 units of new housing over the next decade, Seattle is looking for ways to lower barriers to creating new back yard cottages. City staff members will brief the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee members Wednesday on the capacity for backyard cottages and possible code changes (PDF).
- 2015 budget not over: The finance committee will consider two measures Wednesday that would alter the 2015 adopted budget by approving millions in grant money, adding a handful of new administrative positions, and allocating more funds to cover overtime staffing by Seattle Police officers. The proposed 4th quarter supplemental ordinance contains $7.2 million to cover SPD overtime costs, half of which come from officers staffing special events.
- City Light energy savings: Seattle City Light is ready to set its energy conservation targets for 2016. SCL will discuss its plans to help data centers and indoor agriculture cut their energy use during Friday’s energy committee meeting.
- Wastewater project: The public utilities committee will consider legislation on Wednesday that paves the way for the City and County to build a $423 million “combined sewer overflow” storage tunnel underneath the ship canal.