Watertown Cable Access announced its new contract with Comcast, which will bring improvements to local programming, including more live meeting and sports coverage.
As part of the deal struck with the cable provider, Watertown Cable will increase its operating budget from $360,000 a year to $450,000, said attorney William Hewig of Kopelman and Paige, who represented the WCA-TV in the negotiations.
This will be done with subscribers paying only about a $1 more a month, he said. He has seen other towns go up $3 to $5 a month.
Watertown Cable will also receive $572,000 in equipment and other capital projects. This will improve the quality of existing connections and add more direct links, said Watertown Cable Executive Director Helen Chatel.
“We will upgrade the fiber from Town Hall to the studio at Watertown High School,” Chatel said.
They will also purchase new cameras and microphones, and install audio/visual equipment at the Watertown Free Public Library, Victory Field, the John Ryan Skating Arena, the Police Station, Watertown High School and Watertown Middle School.
“This will allow us to increase live coverage of events,” Chatel said.
Councilor Ken Woodland said he is intrigued with the possibility of having Watertown High School sporting events broadcast live. He said he would have loved to have his games shown live when he was an athlete at Watertown High School.
“You don’t know how excited I am about live streaming from Victory Field,” Woodland said.
Council Vice President Steve Corbett wondered if the contract included any provisions for closed captioning for those with hearing difficulties. Chatel said the contact did not include any provisions, but cable access is meeting with the Commission on Disabilities to start captioning of some of the Watertown Cable programming.
The contract does not guarantee that Comcast will keep its storefront on Main Street open, but will at least keep it open for a while.
“Centers are being closed down,” Hewig said. “We were not able to get them to agree absolutely to keep it open, but they agreed to at least keep it open through the current lease, which ends in 2016.”
If it does close, Comcast has deals with UPS Stores to allow subscribers to drop off equipment at their stores to be sent back, Hewig said.