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Elmira Spins Its Wheels Negotiating for a Better Deal from Time Warner Cable

The southern tier city of Elmira, N.Y. is not too happy with Time Warner Cable’s lock on the local cable market.

“There’s no competition so their prices continue to go up, their offers continue to go down, and the people here with no other competition are just paying and paying and paying,” Elmira mayor Sue Skidmore told WETM News.

Skidmore and the city council intend to hold public hearings on the cable operator’s franchise renewal before they attempt to negotiate the next 10-year agreement with the cable company.

“This gives the public an opportunity to come and say anything good or bad pertaining to the cable franchise,” said city manager John Burin. The public meeting is scheduled for 7pm, June 4, on the second floor of Elmira City Hall.

Skidmore

The city’s ability to press Time Warner Cable for lower rates or service changes are extremely limited, however. Wholesale deregulation of the cable television industry has allowed most cable operators to manage their systems as they see fit, with no obligation to accept the recommendations of local government.

This fact of life was underscored when Time Warner mailed its own vision of what a renewal agreement with the city should look like, prior to any public discussion.

The city’s lawyer, John Ryan Jr., told the Ithaca Journal the company deleted several provisions in the proposed renewal agreement that are part of the current agreement. Ryan intends to speak with the operator about those changes, and wants to see changes in the city’s favor.

In most franchise renewal agreements, the only leverage a city typically has is to threaten not to renew a cable franchise. That is a very rare occurrence, however, because it is exceptionally rare for another major cable provider to agree to service a city that cancels a franchise renewal with another company. In the end, most renewal agreements come down to handshake agreements to correct any long-standing service issues, agree to wire certain unserved areas, and negotiate over public, educational, and government access channels and franchise fees payable to the city.

The local telephone company, Verizon Communications, has no plans to provide its FiOS fiber optic service in the city, leaving customers with the competitive option of landline phone service, DSL, and a contract with Verizon’s satellite TV partner, DirecTV.

WETM in Elmira reports city officials are preparing for franchise renewal discussions with Time Warner Cable. The cable company is already on that, preemptively sending the city a franchise renewal agreement it wrote itself. (1 minute)

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  • George: It's a good thing Charter was allowed to buy up Time Warner, or else we'd still have $15/mo cable internet service packages available... If you're no...
  • EJ: Trump and Pia are a blessing in disguise you will see. As long as someone somewhere can muster a decent Bernie type person we only have three more yea...
  • Dale: In our area suddenlink just downgraded the 200mbps from unlimited data to a 350gb data cap. I don't know if this is only for new customers or existing...
  • Larry Gall: This has become far, far too important a resource for the likes of these jerks to control (in it's entirety). The jerks I'm referring to are the Holl...
  • Matt: Until an operator has the guts to give true à la carte options to the customer the trend is just going to continue. Everyone I know who has cut the c...
  • EJ: They better do it while the getting is good. Raise your price and be put on the radar for unfair rate increases. Attempt to sell that you NEED to incr...
  • FredH: If no one saw this coming - they were idiots. Next come the data caps for everyone....
  • Doug: So what are they (Charter Spectrum) supposed to do? Continue repairing the sabotage? Pay for "protection?" I am certain that those customers whose ...
  • tony russo: Promo with TWC ending this week. Had Starter TV (25 channels) plus Turbo internet for $65 total. Called to see what is available and the lowest tv p...
  • FredH: ....talk about flimsy (or no) evidence.....good luck Charter, wasting our cable fees on a lawsuit they stand no chance of winning....
  • Will: I have to agree with ATT here... Can't blame cord cutters when it's just that ATT's video service is awful and customers are fleeing at the first oppo...
  • kaniki: I really do not see much changing on the Tmobile end of things.. Sprint does not have much coverage outside of Tmobiles right now, so, Tmobile would g...

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