BROOKINGS JOINS PORT IN PURSUIT OF CABLE TV

November 19, 2001 11:00 pm

By SCOTT GRAVES

Brookings residents may soon have a second choice when it comes to cable TV service.

The Brookings City Council voted 4-0 Monday to join the Port of Brookings Harbors effort to establish a cable TV service that would compete against Charter Communications. Councilor Frances Johns was absent.

Over the past few years we have received numerous complaints about cable TV service, said City Manager Leroy Blodgett. Theres an overwhelming dissatisfaction with service provided by Charter.

The complaints to the city include comments such as its too expensive, poor reception, frequent outages and difficulty in contacting a Charter representative when problems arise, Blodgett said.

The city has also experienced poor quality service with their public access channel, he said.

We think its time to step up and do something about it. The port has already taken the lead and we should join with the port to explore the possibilities of providing cable TV.

At its meeting earlier this month, the port Board of Commissioners, dissatisfied with a proposed lease agreement from Charter, unanimously rejected the proposal and voted to explore providing cable TV to its tenants and businesses at the port.

At Mondays city council meeting, Port Manager Russ Crabtree said, I think we have a problem in this community that needs to be addressed.

Charter has a monopoly. There is no balance and we want to provide that balance to our constituents, he said. We welcome the citys involvement.

When asked how long it would take to establish the new cable service for Brookings-Harbor residents, Crabtree said We could be up and running in about six months.

He explained the necessary high-tech infrastructure already exists in Curry County and it was just a matter of hooking into it.

The new service, he added could be operated indefinitely.

Were not into this for profit, Crabtree said, but to give a good price to our constituents.

Blodgett said a public entity such as the port or the city establishing its own cable TV service is nothing new.

The cities of Ashland and Cascade Locks are currently providing cable TV service in their communities, he said. The city of Sherwood is moving forward with providing service in its community, he said.

For Brookings-Harbor, the first step would be to determine how to start up the service and the costs involved, he said.

Blodgett estimated it would cost about $5,000 to do the research. That cost, he added, would be split between the city and the port.

Blodgett told city councilors that his staff would work with Crabtree and report back to them at a future meeting.

Well come back with more information and a final roadmap that shows what its going to take to get into this business and what it will look like when were done, he said.