City looks to renew cable TV contract
A contract that has been in place in the city for more than 15 years is up for review.
The cable television franchise agreement with AT&T Cable Services will expire on Jan. 30.
The city’s cable franchise is a nonexclusive agreement that charges a maximum 5-percent fee of the cable provider.
The fee, which is the maximum amount allowable by the Federal Communications Commission, brought in $238,000 in revenue to the city in 1998.
The City Council is looking to sign another 15 years with AT&T, which recently merged with TCI Cablevision Company the previous cable provider in the city’s limits.
Interim City manager Sue Schlerf said control of the cable service in South Lake Tahoe has changed dramatically over the 15 years when the contract was in effect.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 changed the demands that the local government could place on the cable provider. Before the Act, cable companies had to adhere to city regulations on payment and programming. The Act gave the companies more freedom to raise rates and programming selection.
“When we first started the contract, it was with a local company,” Schlerf said. “Now we’re working with corporate people who don’t live here.”
But Schlerf said the benefits of a large company have brought increased technology – fiber optics.
“For a community our size to have fiber optics is almost unheard of. It has a higher speed of transmission and more capacity,” she said. “We have exceptional cable service.”
AT&T spokeswoman Barbara Shelley said they don’t expect the cable service to change when the contract is renewed.
“I don’t anticipate any changes in service,” she said. “We, for years, have offered service in the community and we expect to continue that.”
Schlerf said the City Council would like more public input on the issue before it takes action on the agreement on Jan. 18.
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