Civic News

Philly gov wants you to take this survey about cable use

Responses to the Verizon Cable Franchise Survey will be used to gather feedback as the City of Philadelphia moves through the renewal process of its 15-year cable television franchise deal with Verizon Fios.

Verizon's 1430 Walnut spot. (Photo courtesy of Scott Bierbryer)
Guess what, Philadelphia — your time to productively complain about (or praise) the cable company has finally come.

The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT) is currently accepting responses for a Verizon Cable Franchise Survey. Responses will be used to gather feedback as Philly moves through the renewal process of its 15-year cable television franchise deal with Verizon Fios, which started in 2009 and will expire in 2024.

“The online survey is designed to provide City residents with an opportunity [to] contribute input about their Verizon cable service to assist the City in being thoughtful about future franchise requirements that could improve service,” said Kelsey Hubbell, communications manager for OIT.

The survey is looking to gather information about Philadelphians’ experiences with Verizon customer service and quality of service, and how aware they are about the City’s public, educational and government access channels.

The City is encouraging all Philadelphians to full out the survey, even if they don’t subscribe to cable television. The deadline to submit a response is Feb. 10.

Take the survey

Why ask about cable?

The cable company’s franchise deal in Philly dictates that it must offer public access channels, along with other local channels such as those run by the City and the School District of Philadelphia. Public access programming is open to anyone in the community and does not require media makers to purchase airtime, like commercial programs do, said Gretjen Clausing, executive director of public-access nonprofit PhillyCAM.

“It really does come down to making sure that these franchise agreements are following in the City’s commitment to digital inclusion and equity,” she told Technical.ly.

Clausing said the deal with Verizon contributes financial support that helps PhillyCAM continue educating and training people how to use the public access media technology, as well as purchase equipment and keep studios up to date.

“We’ve really spent years building a community of folks who are using PhillyCAM and its resources to represent points of view that are not necessarily being covered in the same way in other local media,” she said. “For us, what’s important is making sure that both the City and Verizon will maintain that commitment for us to be able to do this work that we do, supporting folks and individuals and nonprofit organizations to use media to share their stories.”

This “community needs assessment” will determine what terms should be included in this renewed deal, per Hubbell.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: City of Philadelphia / Office of Innovation and Technology / PhillyCAM / Verizon
People: City of Philadelphia / Office of Innovation and Technology / PhillyCAM / Verizon / Gretjen Clausing
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