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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 12, 2013

Michigan Tells Comcast to Do Better

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

It may have expected an open-and-shut re-up of its existing franchise contract, but City Manager Bryon Mazade of Muskegon, Mich., says that Comcast (News - Alert) will need to give more if it wishes to reestablish itself as the incumbent cable TV provider in the waterfront community.

A 25-year agreement expires Aug. 2, which has heretofore given Comcast the ability to offer TV and ISP service in the region as well as use the city’s rights of way. The proposed “uniform video local franchise agreement” has, however, met with resistance in Muskegon, whose city commission said that is not ready to sign the company’s offer. It is, according to the all-Michigan news outlet MLive, looking for additional benefits, including free cable connections to city facilities and an extension of the cable system to the city’s Hartshorn Marina.

Image via Shutterstock

Of course, the town has very little leverage—Comcast is the only game in town for TV other than satellite. That means that if an agreement is not reached by the Aug. 2 expiration date, it would still remain in force under federal and state law until a new agreement was reached.

The agreement as written also re-ups the 5-percent fee that the city gets on Comcast’s company gross revenue. That translates into about $345,000 a year for the city’s general fund.’

Nonetheless, city commissioners this week unanimously approved a resolution rejecting the initial Comcast offer, requesting negotiations with the cable company with regional offices in Lansing.

Vice Mayor Larry Spataro stressed that the city would welcome competition to Comcast in the video arena. People think the franchise agreement locks out others and competition, but that is not the case,” he told MLive. “The agreement is just the use of the city right of ways for their wires. If another wants to come in, the market is open.”

Edited by Alisen Downey

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