City to comcast: Just checking in

As any Comcast cable subscriber who regularly tunes in to Channel 10 knows, city meetings can rise to the stuff of Shakespeare—except that everybody involved doesn’t die at the end. Well, get ready for more prime-time city drama. The Charlottesville City Council is looking at the possibility of televising even more of its meetings.

City Council meetings are broadcast live every first and third Monday night. Councilors recently heard a report from the city’s director of communications, Ric Barrick. The report stemmed from complaints the city received about the cable and Internet service (or lack thereof) from Comcast.

The city has an agreement with Comcast that runs until December 31, 2013. In the staff report, the city found that the number of calls to City Hall regarding service have fallen in the past two years. According to Paul Comes, a director of public affairs for Comcast, the company has spent $19 million to upgrade its system in the Charlottesville area to a one-gigahertz machine of TV entertainment, online research, and of course, pornography. Comcast says that it is the only system in the state with this much capacity.

But that didn’t keep councilors from requesting access to public complaints of service, which the contract stipulates is their right. They also expressed interest in upping public access channels to six from the three the city currently has.

And while Councilor Kendra Hamilton said she was happy with her basic Comcast package (rumor is she’s more of a reader), Kevin Lynch inquired about the possibly of creating a new package of channels for households with young children, preferably one where tots can watch the Discovery Channel in wide-eyed awe without the temptation of flipping over to VH1 to see "I Love New York" contestants spitting/cursing/choking on or at each other when they’re not rubbing up on the show’s star.

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