Mute button from Comcast on Martha’s Vineyard contract?


Comcast Corporation has not replied to a request from local officials for more detailed information about the cost and viability of extending cable service to Chappaquiddick and other remote locations on Martha’s Vineyard.

The issue is a contentious sticking point in negotiations with the cable company for a new 10-year contract to provide cable television service to Martha’s Vineyard. The contract expired June 30, 2011. The company and the towns have extended that agreement three times while negotiation continues.

Edgartown town administrator Pam Dolby, the town’s representative to the cable advisory board, and West Tisbury executive town administrator Jennifer Rand, chairman of that board, both sent Comcast sharply worded letters concerning the Chappaquiddick issue.

Ms. Dolby’s letter to Mary O’Keeffe, senior manager of government and communications, is dated March 6.

Ms. Rand’s letter to Steve Hackley, senior vice-president for Comcast’s northeast region, is dated April 4.

In letters to Island town officials and in an Op-Ed piece published in the Martha’s Vineyard Times in the interval between the two letters, Comcast officials said the towns have not responded to its proposal to share $2 million in costs to extend the cable infrastructure to Chappaquiddick.

The two town administrators disputed that Comcast has ever offered a formal proposal, and questioned the cost estimate.

Island officials specifically asked about the cost to lease conduits from NSTAR to carry transmission wires under the harbor and for detailed build out plans showing distances, densities, and costs.

“Comcast can certainly not expect that anyone other than Comcast will contribute toward building Comcast’s infrastructure, much less even be able to discuss the issue, without actual and estimated costs provided by Comcast,” both Ms. Rand and Ms. Dolby wrote in their latest letters.

A Comcast spokesman was asked for comment on the company’s lack of response to the letters from local officials.

“Comcast continues to engage in regular communication with town representatives in the hopes of reaching a mutually agreeable license renewal,” Comcast spokesman Marc Goodman said in an email statement dated April 17.