Demonstrators Urge Council To Press For Better Franchise Renewal with Comcast

By KYW tech editor Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Comcast Corporation is negotiating the renewal of its cable franchise in Philadelphia, an issue that is expected to land before City Council this fall.  But activist groups are promising to make it a long, hot summer for the company.

“They don’t pay any property taxes here in their hometown,” said Hannah Sassaman (center of photo), an organizer with Media Mobilizing, eliciting a chorus of boos from fellow demonstrators.

A couple of dozen protesters, in matching red T-shirts, stood outside Council chambers, some holding signs calling on Comcast to “pay (its) fair share.”

“In terms of schools, in terms of how they treat their employees, in terms of the services that they provide, they can do so much more,” said Chris Rabb, an adjunct professor at Temple University’s business school.  He says he and others will continue, during City Council’s summer recess, to fight for what he calls a “fair deal” in the 15-year contract that allows Comcast to use public property to deliver services in Philadelphia.

“I want to make sure that City Council has a robust and progressive-minded set of requests — or, really, expectations for Comcast to live up to, in order to earn the right to have this franchise,” he said, including more affordable rates and more money directed to city schools.

In response, Comcast points to its reduced-cost Internet service for low-income residents and touts the more than $800 million in tax revenues it has generated for Philadelphia in the past five years.

 

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