CURRY TO OK CABLE CHANGE ON AUG. 7

July 18, 2000 11:00 pm

GOLD BEACH A 10-year franchise agreement between Curry County and Charter Communications, formerly Falcon Cable TV, received its first reading at Mondays commissioners meeting.

The franchise agreement will receive its final reading at the commissioners meeting at 10 a.m. Aug. 7. The countys cable consultant and Charters Steve Holmes will be there to answer questions.

The current franchise agreement dates back to 1992. It was extended at the commissioners meeting on July 5 until Aug. 7 while the new franchise was being negotiated.

The agreement with Charter Communications for cable television installation, construction, operation and maintenance of a cable television system in the unincorporated area of Curry County would have expired July 7.

County Counsel Jerry Herbage said work on the agreement started more than two years ago.

Commissioner Bill Roberts said negotiating the agreement between the county, the City of Brookings, and Charter Communications has been difficult.

Commissioner Cheryl Thorp expressed concern about the 10-year length of the contract, but said of Charters potential competition, We need to realize this is not exactly a mecca everyone is running to.

Herbage said the new franchise agreement is non-exclusive, but Roberts didnt foresee any other company matching what Charter has agreed to.

Herbage said technology is changing rapidly, leading to different issues since the old agreement was signed.

He said he, Roberts, and cable ombudsman Dominic Taurone worked on the agreement. Copies of the 72-page document will be sent to libraries throughout the county.

Herbage said the new franchise is a better, more complete agreement. He said it has more substantial penalties, more teeth.

Roberts said he likes the new provision for broadcasting the meetings of the county commissioners and planning commissioners.

Its a positive step in the right direction, said Roberts of the new agreement.

He also liked the two pairs of fiber-optic lines included in the contract. He said they could help tie all the county offices in the three cities together.

Bob Pierson, from Charter Communications, said the fiber optic lines are coming to Gold Beach. He said they are about eight miles out of Brookings now.

Pierson said digital service will be launched by Aug. 10. He said the lines are coming up Carpenterville Road on Coos-Curry Electrics system.

Roberts said hed received a call from a homeowner worried about his view being blocked by the lines.

Pierson said Charter had talked with almost every homeowner on the route and made agreements with most of them.

He said laws have changed, making for long and drawn-out negotiations. He said that after all the give and take, We can live with the contract.

The agreement calls for the cable system to upgrade to a minimum practical capacity of 78 downstream video channels throughout the franchise area.

The company agreed to not arbitrarily refuse to provide cable services to any person within the franchise area.

Parental control locks will be available upon request.

Charter agreed to maintain a Gold Beach office to be adequately staffed and able to respond to subscribers and the public not less than 40 hours a week. Toll-free telephone lines must be operational 24 hours a day, every day.

The company agreed to have sufficient customer service staff and telephone line capacity to handle normal call volume with a minimum delay to customers.

Under normal operating conditions, said the agreement, the customer will receive a busy signal less than 3 percent of the time.

Once a phone connection is made, customer wait time will not exceed 30 seconds, 90 percent of the time under normal operating conditions.

Repair and maintenance for service interruptions not requiring on-premises work must be completed within 24 hours under normal circumstances.