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May 17, 2019

BILLERICA —Cable licenses between the town and Verizon and Comcast are up for renewal and funding for Billerica Access Television (BATV) is on the table.

On Tuesday night the town will hold an ascertainment hearing to gather information and public feedback ahead of contract negotiations with Comcast.

A major source of funding for BATV comes from the 5% franchise fee that the town collects through its contracts with Verizon and Comcast.

According to BATV Executive Director Dam Schauerman, 5% is the maximum amount that communities are allowed to collect. Currently Billerica collects 5% and the goal is to continue that under the new contracts.

Town Manager John Curran said the town is looking for capital grant funding for needs like creating a cable access studio. The hope is to also switch BATV to HD channels.

BATV started in Billerica in 1987. Its programming includes coverage of municipal meetings, youth programs, sports programs and health programs.

“It’s a full range,” Schauerman said. “We’re really representing the community.”

In a recent email sent to community members, Schauerman asked that they attend the hearing and speak in support of BATV.

“Without public support at this hearing, BATV may not receive the funding it needs to continue providing the services you’ve come to expect,” Schauerman wrote in the email.

Tuesday’s ascertainment hearing is the first step of the negotiating process, Curran said. The town will be negotiating with Comcast first before negotiations with Verizon.

The hearing will be held at Town Hall n the Conway Room at 7:30 p.m.

Follow Emma R. Murphy on Twitter @MurphReports.

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