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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.

[flv width=”360″ height=”290″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/WETM Elmira City Of Elmira To Negotiate With Time Warner Cable 5-21-12.mp4[/flv]

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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  • Paul Houle: I can believe in AT&T's plan, but not Comcast. For better or worse, AT&T is going "all in" on video and is unlike other major providers in ...
  • Phillip Dampier: Yes, that battle with Northwest Broadcasting, which also involved stations in Idaho-Wyoming and California, was the nastiest in recent history, with s...
  • Doug Stoffa: Digital takes up way less space than old analog feeds - agreed. In a given 6 MHz block, the cable company can send down 1 NTSC analog station, 2-4 HD...
  • Phillip Dampier: Digital video TV channels occupy next to nothing as far as bandwidth goes. Just look at the huge number of premium international channels loading up o...
  • Doug Stoffa: It's a bit more complicated than that. Television stations (and the networks that provide them programming) have increased their retransmission fees ...
  • Alex sandro: Most of the companies offer their services with contracts but Spectrum cable company offer contract free offers for initial year which is a very good ...
  • John: I live in of the effected counties, believe it or not our village is twenty three miles from WSKG Tower, approxiamately eighty miles from Syracuse, WS...
  • Wilhelm: I'm in the Finger Lakes where Spectrum removed WROC-8 last Fall, but we still get other Rochester channels, WHAM-13, WHEC-10 and WXXI-21. I have to wo...
  • dhkjsalhf: "Another classic case of businesses being much smarter than governments." I don't know whether this was sarcastic or not, but I feel it's a sentiment...
  • New Yorker: It makes no sense. I wonder sometimes if raising the limits on how much money rich people giving to candidates could make it more expensive to buy of...
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  • Matthew H Mosher: Another classic case of businesses being much smarter than governments....

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