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Paynesville Press - September 18, 2002

Township approves new cable contract

By Michael Jacobson

After tabling a new cable franchise agreement with Mediacom at their last meeting, the Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed on the new 15-year contract on Monday, Sept. 9.

The township board - aware of continuing frustration with local cable service, most recently expressed at a public hearing in August - had tabled the nonexclusive franchise agreement at their last meeting to see what the city was going to do.

With the city council voting 3-2 to accept the contract, no more negotiations for the contract are likely, noted township board chairman Don Pietsch. "It's time to move on," he said. "It's time to sign a contract. People still have choices to go with (satellite) dishes."

By signing the contract, the township will get $2,000 now and $2,000 in five years for public access television. The choice came down to "not signing it and getting nothing or signing it and getting a few bucks," agreed supervisor Pat Meagher.

The city also will get $7,500 now and another $7,500 in five years for public television.

These payments are based on the number of cable subscribers in the city and township, with the township having just over 20 percent of the cable subscribers in the area.

In addition, the new agreement calls for additional drops to be installed at the township hall, the high school, and the Paynesville Area Center to enable live cable broadcasts from these locations. This means it should be possible to broadcast township board meetings in the near future.

The city and the township hired an attorney who specializes in cable franchises to help in the negotiations with Mediacom. The bill for his services is $13,000, Pietsch told the board, which will be split in the same ratio as cable subscribers, with the township paying for roughly 20 percent of his bill.

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