Time Warner Cable has submitted an application for authorization to be a video service provider in Oregon as well as in other communities, according to Oregon Law Director Paul Goldberg.
Ohio Senate Bill 117, passed in 2007, gives the Ohio Department of Commerce the authority to award cable TV franchises and wire-video franchises. Prior to the bill, cable TV and wire-video companies negotiated directly with municipalities to establish or renew franchise agreements. The intent is to provide more options for video service, and lower costs.
“Does this mean that there’s going to be competition for Buckeye CableSystem?” Councilman Mike Sheehy asked at a council meeting on Feb. 14.
“Yes,” said Goldberg. “And AT&T, also. How aggressive they’re going to be, I don’t know. Under the old law, if someone wanted to be a video service provider and do cable, they had to come to the city and get a franchise agreement from us, like Buckeye has had for a number of years. But the law has changed. Now the state legislature has taken the city out of it and [cable companies] have to go to the state for a statewide permit. So Time Warner has applied to the Department of Commerce. I’m sure they’ll get permission. Once they do, they have so many days to notify us. And we have to notify them that we have a franchise fee, which they’ll have to pay. When they’ll come, I don’t know.”
Councilman James Seaman asked if Time Warner would use Buckeye’s equipment if it decides to compete in the local market.
“They won’t use the same lines, would they?” asked Seaman.
“I don’t think they would,” said Goldberg.
“You’re telling us that if Time Warner comes in,” said Councilman Sandy Bihn, “we have to have another set of cables hung to accommodate that service? Those are some of the most ugly wires in town, and now to add another set. It’s looking worse and worse. If you allow one, I guess you have to allow them all. Is that the way it is?”
“Unfortunately,” said Goldberg, “we’ve been preempted.”
“Is there any way we can control the cables above ground if they put up another set all over town?” asked Bihn.
“We have a right-of-way ordinance ready to go and we’ll have much more control of our right-of-way,” said Goldberg, “and they want to pass that shortly. A number of years ago, and we refined it over the years, we met with companies like Buckeye and Columbia [Gas of Ohio], and I think we have one that’s pretty ready to go right now. It will give us much more control than we currently have of our own right-of-way.”
The bill also gives the Ohio Department of Commerce authority to field consumer complaints about business practices of those franchises rather than consumers lodging complaints with the cable companies.
Also at the meeting, council:
• approved the purchase of two police vehicles, including a 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe for $26,288.75, less trade-in credit for a vehicle of $11,150 for a total net cost of $15,138.75; and a 2011 Ford Crown Victoria P7B vehicle for $22,106, less trade-in credit for one vehicle of $6,000, for a total net cost of $16,106;
• heard that the city was expected to activate a traffic signal at Wynn and Seaman on Wednesday;
• passed a resolution recognizing Oregon Spring Fest as a community sponsored event authorized by the Oregon Growth Corporation.
• heard from Bihn about the pot holes on Bay Shore Road as a result of the cold and snow this winter. “The weather is taking a toll on some of our roads, and Bay Shore Road is really bad right now. It feels like you’re riding a horse when you’re going down it because of the bumps. I’m just wondering if the cold and freeze are going to make it worse, and if it will get back to normal. That’s what Otter Creek was like a while back before it was improved. I almost think Bay Shore is now worse than Otter Creek before it was improved. It’s really getting pretty rough,” said Bihn. She thanked the administration for filling in the pot holes as they occur.
• heard that the city’s Economic Development and Planning Committee met before the meeting to try and reach consensus on amending the municipal sign code that would allow for signs with electronic changeable copy. The committee will meet again next Monday at 6:30 p.m.
• set public hearings for Monday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. for renewal applications for agricultural districts for 20 acres at 4250 Corduroy Road, 15.867 acres at 440 and 480 Stadium Road, and 5515 and 5135 Starr Avenue.