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Public Service Board Renews 11-Year Comcast Permit

The Public Service Board has renewed Comcast's certificate of public good.

The cable company is required to have its CPG renewed every 11 years, and the board issued its order late last week after a year of hearings.

The company's certificate runs until 2027.

In order for Comcast to continue operating in Vermont it has to show that it's adequately serving the public access stations across the state.

There are 22 public access stations that operate on the cable network that is owned by Comcast.

During the hearings with the Public Service Board, the public access stations argue for increased service from the cable company — and this year, there were a number of issues on the table.

The public access stations wanted their locally-produced shows listed on the electronic programming guide that viewers see, and the board determined that Comcast would have to meet that requirement.

The stations also were looking to gain access to the high-definition network.

The board didn't rule with the stations on this point, but in its order, the PSB did say it would open a new case to examine if the stations should have access to the HD channels.

"We didn't get everything, but I think that we won on a lot of levels," says Lisa Byer, director of the Bennington area's Catamount Access Television, and part of the team that represented the stations during the state hearings. "It feels pretty good right now."

The Department of Public Service asked the Public Service Board to require Comcast to build out 550 miles of line extensions to currently unserved parts of the state.

That stipulation was also included in the order issued last week.

"We're still reviewing the order," says Jim Porter, Vermont's director of telecommunications and connectivity. "But generally it was a very favorable order both to the public access stations as well as to the department."

A Comcast spokeswoman said the company was  reviewing the order and it looked forward to continuing to serve its customers in Vermont.

Update 9:42 p.m. This story was updated after Comcast issued a second press  statement later in the day.
Correction 01/20/17 This story was corrected to accurately report the number of stations that use the Comcast network.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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