Asked Questions About the Cable Franchise Negotiations in Troy,
are cable franchise negotiations?
• What can citizens receive?
politicians be worrying about things like safety and clean streets?
• What is this I-NET I keep
hearing about? Can I use it?
• How are things going so
• Any problems?
• What will it cost the citizens
• Who is making the money?
• Where will the money come
from to accomplish these goals?
• So it wont cost us
anything and it benefits everyone regardless of their politics or
background. If this is as great as you make it sound, why dont
we already have it?
What are cable franchise negotiations?
This is essentially a real estate deal. The cable contract between
the City of Troy and Time Warner spells out what the citizens will
receive in exchange for allowing the cable company to use public
property (streets, sidewalks, etc) for their very profitable business.
can citizens receive?
Basically, access to media technology and tools as well as connectivity.
(1) Government, city and community organizations will be able to
better promote themselves and reduce costs for website development,
posters, features on their programs, taking out equipment, databasing
and archiving information, training and so on by having access to
the Community Television and Technology Center.
(2) The public schools and government buildings could see significant
savings for Internet, telephone and other connectivity. The City
can negotiate for an I-NET which connects the "last mile,"
costs which would be prohibitive if this contract is not realized.
Increased fiber and connectivity will attract businesses that want
to move to Troy but cannot because the City does not currently have
a robust telecommunications infrastructure.
politicians be worrying about things like safety and clean streets?
As we enter the 21st century, Information technology tools are
essential to build strong and safe communities. This is not just
about cable TV. It is now about delivering data in any
form. Cable companies are not only providing internet access, but
they are also beginning to move into local and long distance telephone
services. All of this makes the stakes during franchise renewal
much higher than in the past. The key is to recognize that the Media
Center and I-NET are tools in the "tool box" necessary
to help the City more effectively deal with real, "bread and
butter" issues. If the City of Troy is successful in its negotiations,
we could see:
Police cars with wireless transmitters connecting to the
I-NET (Institutional Data Network) to access data, files and information
at police headquarters computers
Public Safety information from the Police and Fire Departments
Neighborhood Watch Trainings, Fire Safety, and Crime-Stoppers
TV programs featuring history and historical neighborhoods
Televised schedules of City Services such as garbage pick-up,
snow removal, etc.
After-School Homework Helpline programs to assist youth with
math, science, and reading
Programs promoting City programs and educating citizens on
The list goes on... it's up to you!
What is this I-NET I keep hearing about? Can I use it?
An I-NET (which stands for institutional network) is just a
fancy word for a very high speed computer network. It interconnects
municipal buildings (City hall, police and fire stations, libraries,
schools, etc) so that they can share voice, video and data--usually
getting much better connectivity at a lower price than they would
otherwise. The combination of an I-NET with the public, education
and government access channels on the cable systems makes it possible
to originate live television programming from locations throughout
the community. The non-profit I-NET often functions in conjunction
with a for-profit MAN (municipal area network) to bring affordable
high speed Internet access to local businesses.
are things going so far?
So far, so good! After more than seven years of hard work,
the City of Troy is positioned to make community media a reality
for local residents. With the guidance of one of the top municipal
cable consultants in the country, the City has carefully followed
federal and state laws governing franchise negotiations. It has
taken lots of money and effort (including thousands of hours of
volunteer work by local citizens), but now Troy is poised to set
a new standard for the public/private partnership represented by
a cable franchise.
Yes. Time Warner has been stalling, trying to drag out the cost
and duration of negotiations. But the City of Troy has followed
federal and state laws to the letterand is in an excellent
negotiating position. Its time to turn up the heat. Our elected
officials need to hear how important the issue of community television
and state-of-the-art technology is to their constituents. Lets
not let them be bullied into signing a lousy contract!
will it cost the citizens of Troy?
NOTHING. This will not cause your cable rates to increase. By
law, the City has no ability to limit Time Warners fees. As
an unregulated monopoly, Time Warner can charge as much or as little
as it wants. Basic cable rates in Troy have increased about 40%
over the last 2 years. These increases have gone directly to Time
Warner, with little benefit to the community. Communities that have
negotiated for a Community Television and Technology Center do not
necessarily have higher or lower rates than other communities.
is making the money?
Time Warner has bought up the region, coming in from the outside
and making a huge profit while not being forthright about what they
legally owe the citizens of Troy. The franchise contract in Troy
will bring Time Warner at least $300-400 million over the next 10
years! The contract negotiation will result not only in Community
Access TV, but a higher franchise fee (rent) being paid to the City
of Troy by Time Warner.
will the money come from to accomplish these goals?
The City of Troy has a contract with Time Warner Cable that
is based on a contract negotiated 36 years ago. It expires December
2004. The contract lays out the terms for the cable companys
use of Troys streets and right-of-ways. By federal law, for
the use of the public rights-of-way, the City can require that Time
Warner pay the City up to 5% of gross cable revenues as rent (called
franchise fees), and provide capital funding for equipment and facilities
to support a community media center and a network connecting public,
educational, and government buildings. The City currently charges
Time Warner a 5% franchise fee; that money is used for the general
fund. This rent has not increased since 1987. The City can also
negotiate for additional resources and funds above the franchise
fee to support community media and technology services.
Time-Warner generates a significant amount of money from its cable
system in Troy because it provides not only cable TV services but
also Internet access services and collects additional revenue from
advertising, home shopping, and other sources. As Time-Warner expands
its service offerings into local and long distance telephone, it
will generate even more revenue from this contract.
it wont cost us anything and it benefits everyone regardless
of their politics or background. If this is as great as you make
it sound, why dont we already have it?
It could be as simple as the fact that we dont miss what
weve never had!