Comcast finally reaches Philly franchise renewal deal

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) has finally secured a 15-year renewal agreement in charge of its cable franchise in its home city of Philadelphia.

The Thursday-afternoon deal with the Philly City Council committeemarks the end of an arduous eight-month negotiation with the city, which kicked off with a 571-page report in April condemning the MSO for its alleged customer service misdeeds and other corporate citizenry issues. 

Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander told FierceCable that the agreement must still be voted on by the broader City Council, and signed off on by the Mayor.

Comcast successfully negotiated for four franchises that allow it to run its cables across the City of Brotherly Love in exchange for 5 percent of the MSO's cable-TV revenue, an amount that came to $17.5 million in 2014.

Under the deal, Comcast will also expand its subsidized broadband program, Internet Essentials, to seniors. The company will provide up to $2.7 million over the next five years to allow other low-income Philadelphians to enroll in the subsidy program, as well.

Comcast pledged to give $20 million over the next 15 years to support local public, government and educational programming channels -- that's an increase of $2 million over what Comcast originally offered. The MSO will also install a high-speed network in 200 city locations, and it will pay its employees at least the city's "living wage" level of $12 an hour. 

"It has some strong commitments from Comcast as well as some strong financial liability if those commitments are not met," said Adel Ebeid, the city's lead negotiator, to the Council. (The meeting was covered by the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local media.) "This truly represents the best deal that the City of Philadelphia can get at this time."

Added Councilman Bobby Henon to Comcast officials attending the meeting: "We're going to hold you accountable here."

"Everybody knows where to find us," said Mark Reilly, head of government relations for Comcast's northeast division.

For more:
- read this Philadelphia Inquirer story
- read this Philly Voice story

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