SELCO Proposes Cutting Senior Cable Discount

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SELCO General Manager Michael Hale discusses changes in cable operations with selectmen. Photo Credit: John Swinconeck

SHREWSBURY, Mass. – Senior citizens in Shrewsbury may be losing a chunk of their discount on cable under a new proposed license with Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations.

SELCO General Manager Michael Hale said the company wants to reduce the senior citizen discount on cable from 25 percent to 10 percent over 10 years. In addition, the discount would not be applied to any new customer after April 1.

Hale announced the proposed change during a hearing before selectmen Tuesday on the company’s cable license.

According to Hale, SELCO stands to gain about $260,000 with the changes to the senior discount.

Under its current cable contract, SELCO is required to give the town 5 percent of its video revenue. SELCO voluntarily gives the town an additional 5 percent of its phone and 5 percent of its Internet revenue.

Hale told selectmen, however, that SELCO wants to be able to eliminate its voluntary contributions should its cable operations ever take a 30 percent loss.

SELCO also provides Shrewsbury Media Connection with $422,000 for its operations, including staff. However, SMC Advisory Board Chair Erica Bodden said she was worried that recent cuts in funding from SELCO had led to the reduction of one full-time employee and urged selectmen to “support the continuation and maintenance of the high quality PEG (Public, Educational, Government) access.”

The new license would extend to 2023.

SELCO, which also provides the town with electricity, has provided Shrewsbury with cable services since 1983, when the town began looking for another source of revenue after the passage of the Proposition 2½ tax levy limit, according to Hale.

According to Selectmen Chairman Maurice DePalo, while the town cannot prevent another cable operator from providing service as an alternative to SELCO, no one else has shown interest.

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