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December 05, 2015

Seattle wants the deal Philly got with Comcast

Open letter from city officials asks for commitment to affordability and access

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Carroll - Comcast Center Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The Comcast Center

A city across the country wants the type of deal Philadelphia got with cable company Comcast.

Philly's deal, reached between Philadelphia City Council's Committee on Public Property and the company, gives the city $500 million in benefits in exchange for another 15 years of access to the public rights of way to operate and deliver cable services.

After Seatlle got wind of the deal, which goes before a full City Council vote Thursday, officials sent an open letter to the company asking why they aren't getting the same perks.

The Seattle Times reports Mayor Ed Murray and City Councilmember Bruce Harrell penned the letter, which demands Comcast give them a similar bargain. The letter reads (per the Seattle Times):

“We were disappointed to learn of the franchise agreed to between Comcast and the city of Philadelphia. Having seen the commitment toward equity and affordability in Philadelphia, we believe the people of Seattle deserve the same level of commitment.”

Among the benefits in Philly's deal is $21.3 million to fund Public, Educational and Governmental Access (PEG) channels - doubling the last contract's totals.

Also, 5 percent of its gross revenues from Philadelphia cable services will be given to the city. That's the maximum amount allowed under federal law.

According to the letter, Seattle officials pushed for similar outcomes in their negotiations with Comcast but to no avail, and are now holding off a pending franchise agreement.

The agreement, originally scheduled to be voted on Dec. 7, is being withheld until more is commited towards affordability and access, as given in Philly's tentative contract.

Michael Mattmiller, Seattle’s chief technology officer, told the Times while he understands Comcast's headquarters are located in Philadelphia he believes his city deserves the same level of access.