Adelphia 'Check Went Out' to Claremont, N.H. (1 Viewer)

cablewithaview

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DeKalb County, AL
Mar. 10--CLAREMONT -- Questions over the $55,000 fee paid annually to the city by Adelphia have apparently been answered.

"The check went out (Thursday)," Gerry Buckley, director of Adelphia's Government Relations for New Hampshire and Massachusetts said.

Adelphia typically cuts this check in January or February, and the city passes it on to CCTV.

But according to an e-mail from the city's finance director, the company had no intention of paying this year. For CCTV, this means cutting more than 80 percent of its budget and in all likelihood, going broke next month and shutting down the station.

"Even if you train volunteers, you won't get the same quality of programming you get with a part-time director," CCTV Board Chairman James Neilsen IV said.

Part of the agreement with Adelphia stipulates the company pay a franchise fee based on a percentage of the company's local customer volume to the city. This money -- usually about $55,000 annually -- is collected into the general fund and given to CCTV, according to Finance Director Mary Walter.

Adelphia contracts with individual municipalities for a fee. Claremont receives a lesser fee than many neighboring communities and all communities in Vermont. Also, most communities contracted with Adelphia receive the fee in quarterly payments rather than on an annual basis.

In November of 2003, the city's contract with Adelphia expired. The city spent $18,000 to hire Robert Ciandella of Donahue, Tucker & Ciandella in Portsmouth, N.H., to negotiate a new contract with Adelphia. Aside from a three-month contract extension that has also expired, little progress has been made, according to Walter.

"Each time a scaled back proposal has been sent to Adelphia it has been met with Adelphia simply red-lining more things on the list," Walter said in her March 8 e-mail to City Manager Guy Santagate.

The absence of any legal agreement, Walter said, was her understanding of Adelphia's alleged refusal to pay the fee.

But according to Buckley, Adelphia simply had a "glitch with the accounting process," and the late payment has nothing to do with the ongoing negotiations.

In 2002, Adelphia filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. For the past four years, Buckley said the company has been under court order to continue normal operations, which includes paying franchise fees to municipalities.

"Really, because of the Chapter 11 filing, Adelphia is a much more healthy company than we were in 2002," Buckley said.

Rival cable provider Comcast is in the process of buying out Adelphia.

Contrary to Walter's suspicions, Buckley said Comcast is not influencing Adelphia's discussions with the city.

"They do not have a seat at the negotiation table," Buckley said. "They can't. They will only get involved once they have possession of the assets, which will probably be sometime in the first half of the year." Claremont should receive the check early this week, Buckley said, which would prevent CCTV from relying solely on volunteers.

The station is not running now due to the illness of CCTV director, Keith Druhl. It should return to the airwaves March 17.

http://www.redorbit.com/news/techno...o_claremont_nh/index.html?source=r_technology
 

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