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County reaches deal with Comcast

PORT ORCHARD — The Kitsap County commissioners have approved a new franchise contract with cable provider Comcast that is projected to bring $2.5 million into county coffers over the next five years.

“This is a very good agreement for the county,” said Information Services Director Bud Harris. “Comcast has become a good public partner and given us a better deal than they had to.”

One example is the Public Education Government charge (PEG), a per-user fee assessed from each cable subscriber. Generally this is $3 per year, while the new Kitsap-Comcast deal brings in $4.20.

In addition to the higher-than-usual PEG fee, Comcast has agreed to loan the county the money ($65,000) ahead of time. By law, this money can only be used for capital projects and improvements.

The remainder of the $2.5 million goes into the county’s general fund to be allocated by the commissioners.

The 61-page document will be in effect for five years, which is shorter than many franchise agreements. Harris said the pace of technology over the five-year stretch “is more appropriate.”

The agreement also provides the county with a high-speed “scramble channel,” which allows county offices to communicate visually on a secure line.

“With this, county employees can stay in their normal work locations and still get the training they need,” Harris said, adding that the channel can also help county agencies communicate during emergencies.

Harris said the scramble channel will allow the county to install emergency services in multiple locations, to develop a backup if the main emergency management location is damaged or destroyed.

Bremerton Kitsap Access Television (BKAT) could also benefit from the new deal. Currently, the public access service has one channel.

If it can meet a certain quantity standard for its original programming it could add two more channels — one each for general programming, education and government.

BKAT Program Coordinator Jan Greenwood said that BKAT would have no trouble generating the programming for all three channels.

Comcast operates in Kitsap County aside from Port Orchard, which is serviced by WaveCable.

Bainbridge Island is also served by Comcast, but with a separate agreement.

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