Wow, just wow.
I am going to repeat my request that the city begin work on a publicly owned fiber network to allow public or private broadband competition.
As you may recall, the City’s cable franchise agreement with Charter Communications expires in September, 2014 and Charter has requested renewal of its cable franchise agreement with the City.
In February, 2013, Brian Grogan (City’s cable attorney) appeared before the Committee of the Whole and explained the franchise renewal process. Brian indicated that there is both an informal or formal process for franchise renewal, and generally the informal process is desired by both parties. Since that time, the City has proceeded with various steps in the renewal process, including the conducting of a franchise fee desk review and the PEG Needs assessment, which provide the documentation of the City’s needs in the franchise agreement. The PEG Needs assessment was a 4-6 week process and was completed approximately 1 year ago. The City (through its cable attorney) initiated the franchise fee desk audit review, which requested Charter to provide specific data related to gross revenue calculations. For whatever reason, Charter had been unresponsive to several information request letters, or did not provide the requested information, and therefore it was not until January, 2014 that the franchise fee desk report was able to be completed.
Based upon information from those assessments, Brian Grogan prepared a draft cable franchise agreement, which was transmitted to Charter in May, 2014. To date, Charter has not provided any response to the draft franchise agreement. In fact, Charter recently sent a request to the City to allow for the possibility of moving the PEG channels from their present location at Channel 10, 19, 20, 21 and 22 to somewhere further into the channel spectrum. At this particular time, the staff has indicated to Charter that this is something we will not consider at this time, until we receive a response back from Charter regarding the draft franchise agreement.
Brian has indicated that Charter has also been unresponsive to other communities in which the franchises are up for renewal. This lack of response has caused additional expense for the City, as our attorneys have had to make multiple attempts to obtain responses from Charter. At this juncture, I think it may be fair to say that the City and Charter may have to move into the “formal franchise renewal” process that Brian had mentioned during the COW presentation last year. That being the case, there will likely be additional costs to the City that will require an encumbrance of funds.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me or Gary Neumann.