Ann Arbor Council Rejects Comcast Proposal

Comcast had its application for a franchise within the city rejected by the Ann Arbor city council at its Aug. 20, 2012 meeting. The city is instead opting to leave in place its existing franchise agreement with the cable company, which runs through 2017.

It was important that the council act at its Aug. 20 meeting, because Comcast had sent an application dated July 17, which the city and Comcast agreed should count as “submitted” on July 23. And based on a recent ruling in the U.S. District Court, on a matter involving the city of Detroit, the city needed to make a decision within 30 days of July 23.

Reasons given in the staff cover memo for rejecting the application include the fact that the existing franchise will remain in place through 2017. In addition, Comcast is taking the position that under a new agreement, it no longer has the obligation to allow the city to use parts of its institutional network that are essential to ensure public health and safety and other public services.

A third reason given for rejecting the application is that the new franchise agreement would grant use of the city right-of-way, and it’s not clear that continued public access to all public, educational, and governmental (PEG) channels would be ensured. And finally, according to the staff memo, Comcast’s application is not consistent with a formal renewal process – because it does not reasonably purport to meet local needs; and the application is not consistent with an informal process that would require the public have an opportunity to comment.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]