City council seeks input on Triax merger

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 6/11/96.

With only a few people in attendance, the Paynesville City Council held a public hearing, June 5, to receive input on the upcoming Triax merger.

A Triax representative was asked to attend the meeting, but none were present.

Nancy Landmark, city attorney, explained there are four cable companies merging which affects 20 communities.

Mrs. Bert Lang, Paynesville, asked if more stations would be added to the channel selection. "I'm satisfied with what I have, we don't need more stations. I'm not interested in paying more. I don't see the advantage of more stations."

Landmark said the proposal does not specify what will happen. "We were told there would not be any immediate increases," she said.

At present, Triax offers channels two to 13 on the basic package and two to 37 with the exception of the premium channels on the expanded package.

Another person asked what would happen if the city did not approve the merger. Landmark replied things would continue as is without any changes. However, we don't know how Triax will view the city and our needs for upgrading the local equipment.

Don Torbenson said one concern of the cable commission is what can we expect on improvements on Channel 6. This has been a concern for many years and the commission has been trying to get assistance from Triax but with no response.

"The quality of the Channel 6 broadcast is not good. The technology is there! We should be able to play a tape, have it turn itself on and off, then switch back to regular programing," Torbenson said.

City Administrator Dennis Wilde said the city has received a check for $2,500 from Triax and Triax has promised an additional $2,500 in the fall.

Janet Madsen, cable commission member, didn't feel $5,000 would buy a whole lot of new equipment. "We made out a wish list and will have to go from there, she said.

"In 1999 our franchise with Triax is up and there is a three-year window for negotiations," Wilde said.

Mayor Voss added the city is getting the money because Triax wants us happy at the time of the merger process.

Torbenson stressed they had more technology going in school 15 years ago than we do now.

Madsen said the commission wants to be assured the merger won't negate what has gone on prior. "We have many old issues which need to be settled. We don't want to start over from square one. We want to continue and move forward.

"Triax has asked the city to approve a resolution saying they are in complete compliance with their franchise. The city did not sign the resolution," Landmark said.

Landmark said their first concern is the impact of the merger on the community, then the compliance issue.

Torbenson asked if the franchise fees went into a special account. Wilde replied, no. The $8,000 to $9,000 the city receives goes into the general fund. The amount is based on the number of subscribers.

Landmark suggested the council suspend the meeting rather than adjourn until further information is obtained on the merger.

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