Town of New Paltz Fights to Renew Overdue Cable Contract

The Town of New Paltz is fighting for a contract renewal that is seven years overdue with Time Warner Cable Company.

A 10-year agreement was made with the company in 1995, and since 2005 the New Paltz Public Access Advisory Committee has been trying to renew it, Don Kerr, chairman of the committee said.

Kerr said there are a number of features Time Warner is not willing to renew, including a franchise renewal, a second public access channel and the return of the construction fund.

The construction fund is one of the most prevelant issues, according to Kerr. He said the fund is comprised of holding money taken from the franchise fee cable customers pay and was not properly allocated by the cable company.

“The fund contains $325,000 of Town of New Paltz citizens’ money and growing,” Kerr said.

The construction fund was meant to extend cable lines over 17 years to all people in the area who could receive cable. Now that this has been accomplished, the town wants the money back, he said. The money in the fund would be used to buy broadcasting equipment for schools so they can update the town on events on their own separate channel, Kerr said.

“Back in 2011, [Time Warner Cable] said that the money would be deposited in a fund for education public access,” Kerr said. “Time Warner agreed to write a check for the equipment to facilitate broadcasting, but they changed.”

David Lent, town supervisor in 1995 and public access committee member, said the agreement to the contract renewal was made verbally.

“[A Time Warner representative] went back to get more approval and the attorney said he wouldn’t agree and to only give money to the town if they tell us how they will use it,” he said.

The committee received a copy of a letter from the Time Warner vice president of government relations to Glenville, a small town near Albany, granting the town their money left over from the franchise fee, Lent said.

The committee wrote a letter to the cable company six months ago stating why the money should be provided to the town but Lent said they have not replied.

Time Warner Spokesperson Jennifer Holick said the Town of New Paltz and the cable company have put a lot of hard work into drafting a renewal agreement, and they plan to meet in the next two weeks to make final decisions.

“Time Warner Cable and the Town of New Paltz have enjoyed a long partnership together,” Holick said. “We recognize that this process takes time, and we continue to honor the terms of the existing franchise agreement and are working together on a renewal that will meet the changing needs and interests of the community.”

Lent said under the current franchise agreement there is a public access channel on 23, as well as a separate channel which SUNY New Paltz utilizes. He said that the Time Warner line extensions fund, which will not be included in the new contract, is an “illegal charge that the town has to resolve before they sign a contract.”

“The town still feels that the money should be returned to [them] and at this time, Time Warner Cable is not willing to do that,” he said. “They have not treated us fairly.”