Comcast and Island officials fail Islanders without cable access
To the Editor:
Following publication of our letter to Comcast in last week's Martha's Vineyard Times, the Chappaquiddick committee received a response from Timothy Murnane, the cable company's vice president of government and regulatory affairs, which said in part, "We are in the midst of negotiating with the towns of Martha's Vineyard. I am confident that the towns will continue to raise issues relative to unbuilt areas of the entire Island as a part of ongoing negotiations ... I am confident that your interests are well represented by the town."
Concrete signs of Mr. Murnane's confidence that Chappaquiddick will receive the same cable service as the rest of the Vineyard are non-existent.
At the last Island-wide negotiation, Comcast reviewed a list of unbuilt areas. There was not one home on Chappy listed as unbuilt.
Our letter to Comcast chairman Brian Roberts remains unanswered.
There are many areas in every town on Martha's Vineyard that remain un-serviced. Comcast wishes to place the burden of service extension on the administration of each town. That is, if you don't get service it's because your elected officials wanted to barter your rights for perks to the towns. This is the way Comcast operates in every service area across the country — divide and conquer.
On Chappy, for example, there are new conduits under the Edgartown Harbor that could easily allow a service extension. However, they remain unused. The Edgartown selectmen could force this issue of extension, but to date they have not.
All the towns will benefit greatly from the bundled services they wish to procure for their administration buildings, but not at the expense of negotiating away the rights of every citizen to be covered under an all-Island contract. Access to 21st century media is a necessary utility by which we do our work, teach our children, and communicate with each other.
We call on all citizens of Martha's Vineyard to stand firm on this issue and demand the selectmen of every town refuse to sign a contract that leaves anyone on the Island without coverage. If Comcast were to walk away from an Island-wide contract and leave the Vineyard without service, it would raise the issue of "cherry picking" service areas of towns to a national level. It would be a political and publicity nightmare for Comcast.
We ask our elected officials to do the right thing and represent all their constituents in these Island-wide contract negotiations.