Mayor's Office of Cable Communications filings
Scope and Contents note
This collection consists of the copies of records filed in the Office of the City Clerk by the Mayor’s Office of Cable Communications for public inspection pursuant to 207 CMR (Code of Massachusetts Regulations) 3.00. These records span the dates 1980 – 2003, with bulk dates of 1980 – 1984 and 1996 - 2003. Present within these records are proposals/applications, reports, correspondence, documents pertaining to public hearings, plans and maps, contracts, and cable licenses. There is also an application, dated January 19, 1981, by the City of Boston for a planning grant from the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program.
Many companies and corporations originally applied for the single cable license for the City of Boston in the Fall of 1980. Represented here are Cablevision of Boston, The New York Times Company, Abetta Corp., American Cablevision of Boston, Times Mirror Cable Television of Boston, Tribune Cable of Boston, Boston Cablevision Services, Inc., Rollins Cablevision of Boston Inc., and Warner Amex Cable Communications. The Office of Cable Communications selected only Cablevision of Boston (Cablevision) and Warner Amex Cable Communications (Warner Amex) for further review after the first round of applications. Therefore, material from these two companies accounts for the majority of documents within this collection. Mayor Kevin White awarded the Final License to Cablevision of Boston in December of 1982. Hence, there is a greater amount of material from Cablevision than Warner Amex present in the majority of documents just mentioned.
A company by the name of Cablevision Systems Boston Corporation originally applied for the license that Cablevision of Boston was awarded. These two companies, if not the same company, are very closely related, i.e. Cablevision Systems Boston Corporation is one of the parent companies of Cablevision of Boston. Cablevision Systems Boston Corporation applied for the license in the Fall of 1980. On April 1, 1981 Cablevision Systems Boston Corporation, Charles F. Dolan, and Cablevision Systems Development Company entered into an agreement and formed Cablevision of Boston. In March of 1982 Mayor White awarded a Provisional Cable License to Cablevision Systems Boston Corporation. In December of 1982 Cablevision Systems Boston Corporation applied to, and was granted permission to transfer this Provisional Cable License to Cablevision of Boston. Later that same month Mayor White awarded the Final Cable License to Cablevision of Boston. Records within this collection document these agreements, transfers, and awards.
In 1996, a company by the name of Metrtopolitan Fiber Systems/McCourt, Inc. (MFS/M, Inc.) became involved in a dispute with Cablevision of Boston as to whether or not MFS/M, Inc. was providing an illegal cable service to parts of the City of Boston and the surrounding areas. Cablevision's complaint resulted in an extended back-and-forth of "Petitions" and "Replies," among other formal communications, between both companies and the Federal Communications Commission. Many of these documents were filed with the City Clerks office and are present in this collection in the Federal Communications Commission series.
- Creation: 1980-2003
- Creation: Majority of material found within Bulk, 1980-1984, 1996-2003
- Boston (Mass.). Office of the Mayor (Organization)
- Boston (Mass.). City Clerk (Repository, Organization)
The Mayor’s Office of Cable Communications was established in July of 1980 and given the task of researching and planning the development of Boston’s cable television and communication system. The idea of cable television for the City of Boston was first explored in 1973, but was abandoned because the City found that it would have to bear an unfair financial burden. Mayor Kevin White re-visited the cable issue in 1979 and it was decided that the City would move forward with a franchise system. The Office of Cable Communications was the sole office within the City government that dealt exclusively and specifically with the cable franchising process in Boston; and as such, the office served an important policy-making function as the principle advisor to the Mayor on the cable franchise issue. The Mayor had the exclusive power to award the cable franchise license.
The Office of Cable Communications, in its roles as head of cable development and advisor to the Mayor undertook the following activities:
- •Researched and monitored cable development in major U.S. cities to learn from the experiences of other municipalities;
- •Received and reviewed the first round of franchise applications/proposals for Boston’s cable system from the Fall of 1980 thru the Spring of 1981;
- •Formulated the Issuing Authority’s Report (i.e. Request for Proposals) specifying Boston’s demands for its future cable system;
- •Assisted in the establishment of the Cable Access Advisory Committee and provided staff support for the issuance of the Committee’s final report to the Mayor in December of 1980;
- •Staged a workshop on cable communications at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for City of Boston Department heads and their designees to stimulate their thinking on how cable communications capabilities can be utilized to deliver City services more efficiently;
- •Planned a citywide public education effort on cable aimed at eliciting neighborhood and institutional participation in the planning process;
- •Held public hearings in 1981 in order to allow the final two franchise applicants (Cablevision of Boston and Warner Amex) to present, explain, and answer questions concerning their applications/proposals.
- •Monitoring cable television franchises with both Comcast and RCN-BecoComm
- •Reports and mediates consumer issues regarding cable television service & performance & rates and construction
- •Programs Boston Kids & Family TV in cooperation with WGBH on Comcast Channel A-22 & RCN's Channel 3
- •Produces and programs "Boston City TV," the City's shared education and city public affairs service on Comcast Channel A-24 & RCN Channel 16
- •Funds and collaborates with the Boston Community Access & Programming Foundation, (BNN-TV) which programs community access television on Comcast Channels A-9 & A-23 and RCN's Channels 19 & 83
- •Certifies eligible telecommunications providers to do business with the city of Boston under the city's Office of Telecommunications Policy
- •Works with the City's ROW and Permitting agencies to ensure proper protections for city streets and public ways
7.5 Cubic feet (7 Record Cartons, 1 Flat File)
Language of Materials
- Guide to the Mayor's Office of Cable Communications filings
- Patrick T. Collins
- April 15, 2008
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- With funding from a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)