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Overview

Cable Television Franchise Overview

Cable television within Massachusetts is governed by a variety of detailed federal and state laws.  To meet these laws, cable operators are required to obtain cable television franchise agreements from municipalities in order to install cable lines in the public right-of-way, and to deliver services via that cable to the community.

Listed below are several commonly asked questions about cable television services within the City of Lowell.

What Cable service provider(s) operate in the City of Lowell?

Comcast is the only cable operator that has sought a license within the City of Lowell.  Though the City has repeatedly approached other cable operators about seeking a license to operate a cable television system in Lowell, we seldom receive a response, and when we do, it is to inform us that "... Lowell is not currently part of our business plans... ".  Regardless, the City is always prepared and ready to negotiate with any cable television operator that may be interested in conducting business here.

How do I contact them for service?

Comcast may be reached by telephone at 1-800-339-9992.

Who do I contact to complain about a cable-related problem?

Comcast the cable provider at the number listed above (or on your bill) first, and provide them with the information relevant to your situation.  Make sure to record the name of whoever you speak with, to record any incident number related to your call, and to keep copies of any correspondence to/from them.  When calling your cable provider, if you do not receive a satisfactory answer, make sure that you ask to keep with a supervisor.

If the cable-related problem continues unresolved, what is my next step?

If you are still not satisfied with the response you receive from your cable provider, you may contact the City's Cable Coordinator at 978-674-1010 or by clicking on the Contact the Cable Coordinator link in the left hand column, above the Department Facts. 

When doing so, please be sure to include your name, the name of the person on the cable account, the cable account number, your telephone number and address, and a clear description of the cable-related issue.

If the cable service is interrupted, can I obtain a refund?

Subscribers are eligible for a pro rata credit or rebate for service interrupted for 24 or more consecutive hours.  Please contact your cable provider directly for a refund.

How do I obtain service if I live in a multiple dwelling unit?

If you live in a rental unit and there is not preexisting service, the landlord must authorize the cable provider to wire the building for cable access.  If you live in a condominium, the association typically negotiates an agreement with the cable provider to deliver cable service to the residents.

Can the City negotiate a better rate?

No.  The Telecommunications act of 1996 deregulated rate making for all cable television rates except the basic service tier.  The Cable Division of the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy regulates rates for the basic service tier.

Does the City have any control over programming?

No.

Are there any discounts for senior citizens?

Yes, there is a $2.00 discount off of basic service to eligible senior citizens.  Note that the purpose of the Senior Citizen Discount is to provide assistance to those eligible seniors in real financial need of the discount.  Therefore, Comcast has developed the criteria listed below that will provide the "needs-based" discount, but will be easy for seniors to obtain.

To qualify, a senior citizen must be (1) 65 years of age or older, (2) head of household, and (3) must meet income eligibility requires as demonstrated by receiving one of the following: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid or Mass Health, MA Fuel Assistance, or Property Tax Elderly Asset/Income Abatement Relief.

Who handles local programming how do I get involved?

The City of Lowell has two separate local access providers, focused on Public, Education, and Government (PEG) programming.  Lowell Telecommunications Corporation (LTC) is the non-profit entity responsible for Comcast channels 8 (Public), 95 (Public), and 99 (Municipal) within the City.  Lowell Educational Television (LET), run by the Lowell Public School District, produces Comcast channel 22 (Educational) from the Lowell High School Creegan studio.

Residents of the City of Lowell, members of Lowell-based non-profit organizations, employees of Lowell businesses, and City of Lowell employees are eligible to use LTC services.  This includes free use of TV production equipment and facilities, cable TV channel time, and training in TV production, video and media literacy, and Internet access.  Anyone wishing to use LTC facilities must become a member of LTC, for a small annual fee.