Insight CEO says city's upgrade cable access request would cause rate hike (1 Viewer)


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Stand against retrans!!!
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Apr 18, 2005
DeKalb County, AL
DECATUR - Extra equipment the city of Decatur seeks for cable access programming will raise rates for cable customers, the chief executive officer of Insight Communications said.

The city of Decatur is negotiating a cable franchise agreement with Insight since the existing agreement expired in 2003.

Insight has agreed to spend about $76,000, largely for new cameras and equipment to upgrade the city council chambers. The city also hopes to expand programming opportunities for other governmental and community groups. Those improvements could cost up to $300,000.

"The good news is $76,000 is manageable," said Michael Willner, vice chairman and CEO of Insight Communications in a recent phone interview with the Herald & Review. "When it gets beyond that, it becomes untenable in a competitive world."

City Manager Steve Garman said in recent weeks the city is seeking only what is common for other communities.

"We want the service in Decatur to be equal to the service in other cities throughout Illinois," Garman said. "Right now, it is decidedly inferior."

Willner said the offer given to Decatur is as much as what Insight offers to any community on a per customer basis. Springfield, for example, has the same deal, Willner said.

"Decatur is getting as good of a deal as anywhere else," Willner said.

Expanded cable access programming would allow community members access to meetings of other governmental bodies including the Decatur Park District and the Macon County Board, Garman said.

Garman said in a recent letter to the editor that Insight collected $1.1 billion in revenue in 2005 because of increases in cable subscriptions and the number of Internet customers. Insight is not required legally to pass on costs for new cable access programming equipment, Garman added.

Willner said Insight operates in a very competitive industry, and governing bodies don't tax Insight's competitors on the same basis.

"We're not trying to be hardnosed about this," Willner said. "The fact is the world has changed dramatically."

The Decatur School District and park district have reaffirmed their support for improvements sought by the city. To date, city legal bills to negotiate the matter have exceeded $73,000.

Mayor Paul Osborne said the council wants Insight's "last, best" offer and a response should be sent to the mayor's office or the city's legal staff.

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