Haverhill has been on the verge of inking a new contract with Comcast for some months now, but the city lost its negotiating partner when, of all things, the cable representative was elected mayor of Brockton.
Comcast Senior Manager Robert F. Sullivan was sworn in as Brockton’s mayor Jan. 6 after taking about 60 percent of the vote last November. He began campaigning for the seat last July when that city’s mayor, William Carpenter, died in office unexpectedly. That was about the time Haverhill was wrapping up talks with Sullivan. Last week, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini told listeners almost everything is done.
“We’ve sent them a proposal. We thought we had it all worked out. Let’s see what happens,” he said.
Sullivan has served as a Brockton city councilor-at-large since 2006 and was elected City Council president four times.
Haverhill Cable TV Advisory Committee Chairman William Gould told WHAV tentative contract terms provide 5% of Comcast’s gross revenues for public access television and cable-related support, $1.1 million for equipment replacement, continuation of computer network services between city buildings and a small senior citizen discount on cable bills.
“The Committee has done what we believe will be the license. We believe Comcast has agreed, at least in principle, to everything that is in the document,” Gould said.
Answering questions last week on Frank Novak’s “Point of Reference” cable show, simulcast by WHAV, Fiorentini emphasized Comcast has never had an exclusive contract. He explained why the city has been unable to attract a competitive cable television and internet provider.
“Because Haverhill is 33 square miles and the other companies like Verizon—we’ve had Verizon in a zillion times and said ‘we want Fios in the city,’ and they don’t want to come here because it’s too expensive to wire the city,” the mayor said.
Across the county, the mayor said, Verizon is no longer stringing cables. Instead, it prefers to move people to its forthcoming 5G service and satellite.
Although the city’s old Comcast contract expired, the company continues to pay the city and HC Media according to the old terms.