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report  of  Discussion:    CCTV  –  its  future  
 
  with:   on:  
Neville  Webb  (Concord),  President,  and    December  29,  2017  
Sid  Levin  (Carlisle),  Vice  President    316  Heaths  Bridge  Rd  
CCTV  Board  of  Directors     Concord,  MA  
Karlen  Reed  
David  Allen  
 
 
The  Concord  town  administration  proposes  to  take  over  CCTV,  the  cable  broadcast  
facility  funded  by  Comcast  via  subscriber  monthly  payments  and  serving  Concord  
and  Carlisle.  Concord  town  officials  complained  of  nonperformance  by  this  not-­‐for-­‐
profit  entity,  in  particular  by  its  Board  of  Directors.  
 
After  an  earlier  discussion  by  a  concerned  group,  we  were  fortunate  that  Neville  
Webb  and  Sid  Levin  agreed  to  fill  in  the  picture.  
 
What  became  evident,  over  2  ½  hours,  can,  and  will  here,  be  presented  in  two  
categories.  
 

1}  Narrative  from  the  past  three  years  
2)  Adversarial  behavior  completely  unacceptable  in  town  officials  
 

Then  the  discussion  proceeds  to  
 

3)  Policy  
 
This  note  has  been  prepared  by  David  Allen;  he  is  responsible  for  its  editorial  
content.  Exhaustive  input  has  been  sought  from  all  participants  in  the  meeting,  to  
ensure  faithful  reporting.  Further,  the  draft  has  been  forwarded  to  the  about-­‐a-­‐
dozen  members  of  the  CCTV  board  to  insure  complete  fact-­‐checking.  To  be  clear,  the  
author  is  the  sole  person  responsible  for  its  content;  the  document  does  not  speak  
even  informally  for  any  entity.  
 
The  ensuing  policy  discussion  benefited  from  robust  dialogue  between  two  opposed  
views  for  a  path  forward,  as  was  argued  by  the  two  listening  to  the  historical  
narrative.  Some  documentation  related  to  the  matter  overall  is  linked  at  the  
conclusion.  
 
1)  THE  PICTURE  THAT  EMERGED    
 
The  leadership  of  CCTV  bring  lifetimes  of  experience  directly  focused  on  the  mission  
of  CCTV.  And  vision  for  its  future.  And  concern,  and  effort,  to  get  it  there.  
 
Both  Neville  Webb  and  Sid  Levin  began  in  community  television,  in  other  words  
they  began  in  organizations  such  as  CCTV  –  and  more  importantly,  care  about  it  and  

 
 

its  future  vitality.  Each  now  with  about  30  years  experience,  each  has  risen  to  quite  
responsible  positions  in  work  that  goes  to  the  heart  of  CCTV  operations  –  video  
production.  They  bring  now  seasoned,  frankly  remarkable  capability  for  the  
necessary  leadership.  
 
One  heads  a  department,  at  one  of  the  top  investment  firms  nationally,  Boston-­‐
based;  the  department  among  others  is  responsible  for  video  production.  The  other  
is  co-­‐founder  of  an  award-­‐winning  media  production  company  serving  both  
broadcast  and  Fortune  100  clients.  
 
They  made  a  point  of  assembling  an  equally  stellar  CCTV  board,  for  instance  
including  the  producer  of  Chronicle.  
 
They  are  in  touch  in  detail,  necessarily  by  their  vocations,  with  the  technology  and  
business  models  on  this  turf.  Which  also  is  evolving  rapidly.  From  this,  they  see  
where  the  future  of  CCTV  may  need  to  go  as  the  cableco  monopolist  Comcast  comes  
under  increasing  pressure.  Perhaps  to  the  point  where  payments  from  Comcast  
shrink,  even  significantly.  And  as,  for  instance,  video  shifts  to  streaming,  onto  a  
phone  and  a  tablet.  
 
What  did  they  get  for  their  troubles?  
 
Three  years  of  harassment  and  distraction  by  town  officials  who  insisted  on  taking  
over  the  operation  –  but  could  give  no  clear  reason  for  wanting  to  do  so.  
 
Except,  it  seems  possible  the  Town  Manager  has  his  eye  on  the  kitty  of  cash  now  at  
CCTV  and  incoming.  For  instance,  and  as  reported  in  the  Concord  Journal,  we  noted  
the  Town  Manager’s  current  difficulty  to  find  enough  town  budget  even  for  
upcoming  town  salary  increases.  For  now,  this  possibility  is  speculation.  
 
Rather  than  bring  to  CCTV  the  remarkable  opportunity  their  leadership  offered  –  
instead  the  two  had  to  spend  their  time  struggling  with  the  town  administration.  For  
instance,  one  Board  member  they  had  recruited  stepped  away,  apparently  in  
frustration.  Or,  a  contract  renewal  offered  earlier,  2015,  was  ‘punitive.’    
 
As  to  whether  nonperformance?  
 
There  were  two  complaints  over  the  period,  both  dealt  with  and  resolved  promptly.  
Within  the  terms  of  the  contract  with  the  town.  
 
Not  only  was  there  appropriate  performance,  had  the  CCTV  team  been  given  its  
head  as  any  sensible  appreciation  of  the  situation  would  immediately  have  done,  the  
present  and  future  blossoming  of  CCTV  could  have  gone  forward.  
 
For  instance,  one  idea  would  have  seen  engagement  with  the  town  citizens,  on  a  
weekly  basis,  in  Concord  center.  That  would  have  made  CCTV  ‘live’  for  the  town,  put  

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it  front  and  center,  as  a  portal  to  the  rest  of  what  CCTV  might  bring.  Sadly,  that  was  
not  to  be,  after  the  struggle  with  the  town  administration  sucked  up  the  bandwidth.  
 
There  was  a  request  that  CCTV  cover  a  FinCom  meeting.  The  crew  went  to  cover  the  
meeting,  but  the  chair  of  the  FinCom  refused  to  allow  them  to  do  so.  While  town  
officials  blamed  CCTV  falsely,  the  officials  should  instead  have  had  an  earnest  
discussion  with  the  FinCom  chair.  Public  meeting  law  is  clear  on  the  right  to  record.  
 
When  there  was  a  complaint  about  audio,  CCTV  did  serious  work  to  propose  a  fix  –  
which  was  then  blocked  by  the  town  administration!  
 
Also,  the  CCTV  board  might  have  further  discussion  with  its  Executive  Director  
about  initiatives  and  executing  them.  
 
The  actual  mechanism  for  a  town  takeover?  The  town  administration  has  refused  to  
renew  the  current  contract  with  CCTV.  In  fact  the  town  administration  pressed  the  
board  to  terminate  the  contract  early.  The  board  refused.  The  current  contract  ends  
September  30  2018.  (Formally,  Concord  receives  money  from  Comcast  and  then  
contracts  with  CCTV.)  
 
The  above  is  the  narrative  from  the  two  officers  of  CCTV,  as  heard  by  the  two  
listening,  presented  editorially  here  by  this  note’s  author.  As  is,  also,  the  following.  
 
Harassment  by  the  town?  Let’s  turn  to  the  second  section:  
 
2)  STARTING  IN  2015  TOWN  OFFICIALS    INITIATED  AN  ADVERSARIAL  RELATIONSHIP  WITH  THE  
CCTV  BOD  
 
As  new  contract  discussions  began  in  2015,  the  Town  Manager’s  dealings  with  the  
CCTV  board  drastically  changed  from  collaborative  in  nature  to  adversarial.    
Accusations  regarding  service  issues  were  presented  for  the  first  time  as  reason  to  
seek  out  RFP’s  from  other  service  providers  or  submit  to  a  new  contract.  
 
Those  discussions  quickly  devolved  into  accusatory  implications  about  the  board  
motives  regarding  funds.  On  multiple  occasions  the  BoD  was  told  that  the  town  “had  
to  be  protected  from  potentially  nefarious  behavior  by  the  board.”  “The  board  might  
abscond  to  the  Cayman  Islands  with  CCTV  money.”  
 
That  was  petty  –  but,  sadly,  completely  unacceptable  –  unprofessional  behavior.  
These  patent  attempts  at  bullying  are  unacceptable  in  anyone,  and  most  especially  
in  a  town  official  entrusted  to  work  in  the  citizens’  stead.  
 
There  was  other  inexcusable  behavior,  far  from  petty.  
 

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This  of  course  is  a  volunteer  board.  No  one  is  paid  for  his/her  time.  The  town  in  
effect  forced  the  CCTV  treasurer,  Chuck  Palmer,  every  pay  period  physically  to  come  
down  to  the  Town  House  and  beg  for  a  check,  to  meet  the  payroll.  
 
The  Town  Manager  never  returned  emails  to  the  President.  The  Town  Manager  
promised  funding  for  legal  input  to  a  winding-­‐down  process.  But  then  refused  
actually  to  make  the  funds  available  until  after  the  shop  closed  up  –  when  the  money  
would  be  useless.  
 
3)  POLICY  
 
David  Allen,  listening  to  the  narrative,  was  clear  that  it  is  time  for  political  action  to  
raise  the  Select  Board’s  consciousness  on  the  matter  and  reverse  the  drive  to  take  
over.  
 
(Karlen  Reed  indicates  that  she does  not  concur  in  this  report’s  assertions  or  
conclusions.  However,  she  has  not  offered  any  notice  of  areas  she  feels  need  
attention,  despite  being  asked  twice  to  do  so.  Nor,  any  detail  as  to  an  item  reported  
that  she  feels  may  be  inaccurate.)  
 
David  Allen’s  view  summarizes  as  follows.  
 
Fourth  Estate  considerations  dictate  that  broadcast  sources  in  the  community  be  
strictly  independent.  Democracy  depends  fundamentally  that  broadcast  organs  be  
free  to  tell  truth  to  power.  Even  the  structural  possibility  to  be  muffled  by  a  
government  boss  carries  ominous  overtones,  certainly  redolent  of  chilling  historical  
memes.  
 
The  CCTV  Board  itself  rejected  the  takeover  unanimously,  in  part  on  Fourth  Estate  
grounds.  Unfortunately,  there  were  reports  of  town  administration  sources  falsely  
saying  there  was  agreement  all  around.  Of  course  not  only  the  board  but  the  staff  
have  been  thoroughly  demoralized  by  this  onslaught.  With  the  board  deciding  in  
recent  times  to  shift  its  focus  to  doing  what  it  can  to  protect  the  staff.  
 
Beyond  Fourth  Estate,  the  opportunity  that  has  been  squandered  is  shameful.  The  
volunteer  effort,  committed,  strong,  dedicated  and  upstanding,  from  some  of  the  
most  qualified  folks  imaginable,  should  and  can  be  resurrected.  CCTV  has  been  a  
vibrant  resource  in  Concord  and  Carlisle.  With  the  industry  in  flux,  dedicated  
leaders  who  are  intimately  familiar  is  simply  essential.  
 
Such  leaders  who  are  among  the  best  individuals  available,  willing  and  committed,  is  
a  godsend.  If  we  judge  by  “what  is  for  the  good  of  Concord,”  here  we  see  it.  
 
A  raid  on  the  treasury  of  the  organization,  by  contrast  –  as  may  be  underway  –  
would  be  a  grim  and  laughable  caricature  of  anything  that  might  be  paraded  as  good  
government.  

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The  discussion  also  considered  some  policy  questions.  
 
CAN  AN  INDEPENDENT  NOT-­‐FOR-­‐PROFIT  BE  ACCOUNTABLE?  
 
There  are  manifest  living  examples  of  rock-­‐solid  cases.  The  organization  of  the  
League  of  Women  Voters  is  a  staunch  model  for  instance.  Examples  practically  litter  
the  landscape,  the  Sierra  Club,  the  Nature  Conservancy,  and  so  forth.  
 
Structural  models  for  sound  accountability  abound.  CCTV  has  even  been  audited  
already.  
 
THE  NETWORK  INFRASTRUCTURE,  CONCORD  BROADBAND,  IS  CONTROLLED  BY  THE  TOWN.  WHY  
NOT  CCTV?  
 
The  ISO  seven-­‐layer  network  model  starkly  distinguishes  physical  media  at  level  1  
and  content  at  level  7,  among  others  for  policy  implications.  
 
With  net  neutrality  for  physical  media  such  as  Concord  Broadband’s  fiber  a  
paramount  consideration,  the  available  choice  between  demonstrated  malfeasance  
by  private  network  actors  as  against  control  at  the  ballot  box  seems  clear.  
 
Content  at  level  7  –  the  work,  in  other  words,  of  CCTV  –  is  the  opposite  case.  With  
the  point  instantiated  by  Fourth  Estate  dictates.  
 
PRACTICAL  CONSIDERATIONS    
 
The  “Town”  is  not  its  administrative  staff,  nor  even  its  Select  Board.  The  Town  is  its  
citizens.  They  look  to  the  Select  Board  they  elect  to  effect  their  will.  In  this  case  that  
puts  the  focus  on  word  going  unmistakably  to  the  Select  Board,  in  no  uncertain  
terms.    The  SB  are  responsible  for  their  sole  employee,  the  Town  Manager,  in  this  
case  for  the  sound  choice  about  CCTV.    
 
 
 
  SOME  RELATED  DOCUMENTATION  
 
For  convenience,  a  couple  documents  have  been  made  accessible  online  
 
• Letter  from  the  CCTV  BOD  to  the  Concord  Select  Board,  May  2,  2017  
• Note  regarding  wind-­‐up  legal  costs,  July  17  2017  
 
Reportage  and  a  letter  in,  respectively,  the  Concord  Journal  and  the  Carlisle  Mosquito  
 
• Talks  continue  over  Concord  control  of  CCTV  –  Concord  Journal,  March  21  2017  
• Concord  not  to  renew  contract  with  CCTV  –  Concord  Journal,  October  3  2017  
• CCTV  board  members  respond  –  Carlisle  Mosquito,  October  11  2017  

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