By David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Comcast Corporation
Earlier today, Philadelphia City Council unanimously approved a renewal of our cable TV franchise that allows Comcast to offer cable television to customers in Philadelphia for the next 15 years. Comcast renews hundreds of franchise agreements with municipalities across the country each year — but this one is different. Philadelphia is our hometown. This is where more than 8,000 of us work, and where so many of us live and volunteer in our communities. This agreement uniquely reflects our commitment to our headquarters city and its residents.
A lot has changed over the years as we’ve grown from a small start-up to a global leader in media and technology –- but our hometown pride has never wavered. We have always remained steadfast in realizing founder Ralph Roberts’ vision and passion for giving back to our great city – a culture that infuses us with a strong commitment to civic leadership in all the markets we serve and where our employees and customers live and work. But there is always a special relationship between a company and its hometown corporate headquarters city — and our ongoing commitment to Philadelphia reflects that special status.
This franchise agreement is just the latest proof point in an already exceptional collaboration and symbiotic relationship with Philadelphia. The franchise agreement contains mutually beneficial financial terms as governed by federal law, including the maximum franchise fee permitted under federal law, strong customer service commitments, and carriage of 11 PEG channels, as well as a significant Institutional Network and a managed services agreement pursuant to which Comcast will deliver high speed data and video services to more than 200 municipal locations, including the capability to offer WiFi services in those buildings. In addition, Comcast confirmed its ongoing social investment commitments to the City of Philadelphia with a number of creative initiatives and investments in our hometown — separate and apart from the franchise agreement — making the total package worth an estimated $480 million.
Just a few highlights of these benefits include:
Comcast agreed to the following as part of our franchise agreement terms:
- More than $250 million in franchise fees over the next 15 years.
- Significant support for Public, Education and Government (PEG) community channels. Comcast will provide for a total of 11 PEG channels, and an increase of PEG Video on Demand Capacity from 8 hours to 20 hours.
- An Institutional Network to provide data transport to 200+ locations across the city and to provide managed services that will result in significant city savings. While the city will pay an annual fee for this managed services network, we have committed to invest $10 million in network infrastructure, at no cost to the city.
- Participation in an Economic Opportunity Plan that recognizes Comcast’s leadership in the area of supplier and workforce diversity, and establishes goals to expand that effort.
Comcast also agreed to continue and expand the following initiatives, separate from what is governed by the franchise renewal:
- The expansion of Internet Essentials, our nationally acclaimed broadband adoption program which has already connected more than 70,000 Philadelphia-area residents —and more than two million low-income Americans nationwide — to home broadband. Philadelphia will now benefit from an Internet Essentials pilot for low-income seniors; a special program to partner with a local non-profit and the city to extend the benefits of Internet Essentials to additional low-income households in Philadelphia; and the opportunity to trial any new Internet Essentials pilot here at the same time we roll it out anywhere in the country.
- A $500,000 grant to support the foundation and mission of a new Digital Inclusion Alliance. This alliance will be composed of businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies focusing on improving digital literacy in Philadelphia.
- A 10% discount to low-income seniors on limited basic and digital starter cable services.
- A Virtual Customer Care Agent pilot program in Philadelphia that will result in the hiring of 150 to 200 Philadelphia residents to work as customer care employees from their homes.
- The development of an innovative Career and Technical Education program to prepare high schoolers for careers in technology-related fields, providing a direct pipeline to good jobs and careers that will benefit both Comcast and Philadelphia’s many diverse communities.
This franchise agreement and supplemental initiatives reflect the unique role we play in our hometown, and the special responsibility we feel to our headquarter city. This is evident in our ongoing economic impact, community investment, and commitment to innovation and positioning Philadelphia as a world-class technology hub. You can read much more about Comcast’s special relationship with our hometown in our blog post, A Philadelphia Love Story, or our recently-published op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Comcast is proud to be a leading Philadelphia corporate citizen and this franchise agreement allows us to continue to serve our customers across the city, many of whom are also our friends, families, and neighbors.