NYC: City to hold hearings for cable watchers

Posted on January 7, 2008 - 9:16am.

from: NY Daily News

City to hold hearings for cable watchers


Friday, January 4th 2008, 4:00 AM

The city is giving cable television viewers a rare opportunity to make some static about the service they get from providers.

Viewers will be able to sound off in person at a series of public hearings in coming weeks being held by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

The pulse-taking of cable viewers is a prelude to DoITT's renegotiation of its nine outstanding cable television franchises, which all expire this fall, some on Sept. 16 and the others Oct. 8. They are up for a 10-year renewals.

Seven of the franchises are controlled by Time Warner Cable. They service a combined 1.1 million subscribers in Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens and part of Brooklyn. The other two franchises are controlled by Cablevision, with 600,000 subscribers in the Bronx and a part of Brooklyn.

The franchises gross about $1.9 billion a year, with 5% of those revenues going to the city in franchise fees, the maximum permitted under federal law.

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Queens), who chairs the Council's subcommittee on zoning and franchises, griped that Cablevision and Time Warner have steadily raised rates while lowering the quality of their services.

The Council has already enacted an authorizing resolution giving the city the sole power to negotiate the franchises, but Avella said he still wants to hold an oversight hearing on the negotiations.

Avella urged the public to turn out for the DoITT hearings, even though they won't permit give-and-take exchanges with the DoITT representatives. A poor turnout would give city officials cause for saying "nothing has to change," he said.

The hearings on the Time Warner franchises in Queens will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 22 at LaGuardia Community College, Main Stage Theater, 47th Ave. and Van Dam St., Long Island City.

( categories: Cablevision | NEW YORK | Time Warner )