Last night the Northern Middlesex Cable Advisory Board got to see the result’s of its $2,500 grant to Oddfellow’s Playhouse. Oddfellow’s Director Matt Pugliese expressed his jubilation with the results of the 3 public service announcement’s that Oddfellow’s was able to shoot using the funds donated by the Board. Puglieses came armed with a ipad to show the 12 members one of the 30 second professionally directed PSA's that will be used in commercial campaign’s to attract new student’s to the youth theater program. Pugliese said “ In 2009 about a third of our student’s received some sort of scholarship help based on financial need, this past year that number is almost half. We at Oddfellow’s will never turn a child away because of inability to pay; but to be able to do that we need to be able to attract donors, get grants, and attract new students who are able to pay full tuition to be able to offer that cost. The building collapse last year really hurt us financially, and I cannot thank the Board enough for this contribution. With it we were able to make 3 PSA’s – two 30 second spots and a 4 minute long historical overview of Oddfellows. We will be using these on our website, and in the future possibly be using them for TV air time. Thank you all.” A number of board members expressed their eagerness to continue to help Oddfellows and expressed the desire to incorporate the PSAs as commercials aired during their personal cable access shows on Comcast. Pugliese said he would make the PSA’s available and they are now also available for the public to see on Oddfellow’s YouTube channel.
Board member William Wilson discussed plans to create a scholarship in honor of longtime Comcast cable access volunteer and Middletown resident Justin Hinze who passed away two days before Christmas in 2010. “ He was a wonderful person that was bullied at school, but learned to be himself around the Comcast set. He found his place on camera and developed his own show. Making a scholarship that his mother will have input on that’s available to students in all 5 towns that this board serves is a true honor to his memory.” The scholarship will be available to residents of East Hampton, Middlefield, Middletown, Portland, Meriden & Cromwell student’s graduating in 2012. The Board hopes it can make the scholarship offering an annual event. The Boards is currently developing the criteria for which a student will qualify for the scholarship and plan to distribute it to all the high schools where it will be offered.
John Barrow, general manager at Comcast gave his report and invited the public to attend an Open House January 31th at the new Comcast studio location. Anyone wishing to have his or her own cable access show is encouraged to come to the open house as well. Comcast previously located on Tuttle Rd. in Middletown has moved to a brand new facility on Willowbrood Drive in Cromwell. Barrow discussed the new features of the facility that were not available at the old location. The new Comcast Service Center & Studio has a state of the art lobby with 4 TV’s where customers can try out 3D TV and HDTV viewing. There is also a kiosk which customer’s can use like an ATM and directly pay their bill with cash or credit cards in person. There is also a service desk with staff where customer’s can address their cable & Internet issues if they are unable to resolve their needs by phone. The new studio is a huge upgrade from the previously aging studio in Middletown. New features include but are not limited to direct intercom from director to on set, fully functioning digital sound, and inputs for digital media from laptops. Previously any media that an access show’s producers wished to air had to be manually transferred by cd or sometimes vhs tape. The new studio is available to for the public access productions.
CA Board chairman Jon Pulino expressed what was on many of the member’s mind that evening and has been a topic of discussion at almost every meeting for over a year. When will AT&T Uverse have the public access channel? Barrow’s said, “Corporate is working on it but still in negotiations.” Barrow’s later reminded the Board that for other CT town’s some negotiations had gone on 2 years. Treasurer and the most tenured member of the Board Middletown resident John Schilke explained to me after the meeting that the negotiation is out of the hands of the local Board and local Comcast branch, it is something that the national At&t corporation and Comcast have to reach. Currently, Comcast airs Common Council, BOE and P&Z ,and other municipal meetings on the cable access channel, an agreement that has yet to be reached would allow At&T Uverse subscribers to have this channel also. I asked Schilke, retired director of Video & Digital Communications at Yale, what about the possibility of live internet streaming and archiving of these sessions, and he said as far as available technology it is certainly in the realm of possibility of as a service that Comcast could offer if it chose to do so. The Board cannot mandate what services are offered, but citizens can come before the Board to make suggestions or ask questions.
The meeting closed with a motion to move the public session to the front of the meeting, which passed unanimously. Resident’s with issues with their Comcast cable or internet service who have exhausted trying to resolve their billing or service problem by phone can appear before the Board and speak with the Comcast liaison directly to resolve their issue. The Board, as mandated by the FCC acts as advocate for the five surrounding towns.
Open House New Comcast Studio & Service Center –Willowbrook Drive, Cromwell
January 31, 2012 at 6:00 pm.
The Oddfellow’s PSA made possible by the Northern Middlesex Cable Advisory Board