With the shutdown of TVMiddletown, I have received a few questions about what happens to the payments we receive from Time Warner Cable (TWC).
Ultimately, that’s a decision for City Council, but what I’ve discovered is that many people do not understand the relationship between TWC and the City.
The City signed a Franchise Agreement to Provide Cable Television Services with TWC in 2004. As a result of that Agreement, the City receives payments from TWC annually.
Because we have funded TVMiddletown for years, the presumption was that TWC funds were provided to the City for the purpose of operating the public access station. That is not the case.
Under the Agreement, TWC may use the city’s infrastructure to run and maintain it’s cable system. This could include use of city poles, underground conduit, right of way, etc., necessary to install and maintain cable TV access to our residents.
Under the Agreement, TWC pays the city a franchise fee into the General Fund “in order to compensate the City for the value received in the form of permission to use its streets and public rights-of-way.” The fund are paid by TWC for the right to use our existing transportation and utility system to run their cable lines.
We have chosen over the years, to redirect a portion of that money to fund TVMiddletown. The two actions…payment to the City by TWC… and funding of TVMiddletown by the City are unrelated.
The City will be looking at different ways to provide this type of service in the future for our residents. As more of our residents utilize DirectTV, Dish, HULU, and other online options to provide their television service, public access cable TV becomes more and more obsolete. To watch a City Council meeting, you had to be a TWC subscriber or you couldn’t access the meeting on TV. Last year we funded $112,000 of General Fund dollars to provide City Council and Planning Commission coverage to an ever shrinking audience.
TVMiddletown provided great coverage of many city, school and community events for years. As with many things, technology and society have moved us in a different direction and we must adapt as times and conditions change. It’s time to find a new way to communicate with our public.
Have a great week!