Following a closed session of the board Tuesday at its regular monthly meeting, Aldermen Paul Janoush and Gary Gainspoletti said the board agreed to a five-year contract with Cable One and neither expected the agreement to be accepted.
Sandi Melton, manager of the Cable One Cleveland office, has been negotiating with the city for a 10-year franchise agreement with a five-year review.
At the July board meeting, aldermen voted to make a decision in August when all members of the board would be present. Janoush was not present at the July meeting.
“Last time I was here we discussed instead of a 15 year agreement, a 10 year agreement with a five year review,” said Melton to the board Tuesday.
“I thought we talked about a five and then a five,” said Janoush. “Maybe that’s why you wanted me here.”
“Sandi, we are in the third year of this, if we start something now what are those three years — water under the bridge,” asked Mayor Billy Nowell.
Cleveland entered into a 10-year contract with Cable One in 2001. When it ended in 2011, Cable One asked for a 15-year contract but issues with service and programming caused the two to work with a month-to-month agreement.
“Can we put any stipulations on this, like after three years if not happy with service or programming,” said Alderman Danny Abraham.
Melton said it is her job to work daily with the board and customers to make sure the Cleveland office is maintaining top customer service and meeting the “obligations spelled out in the franchise agreement.”
“How can we hold you accountable, at the end of five years? What is the purpose of the five year review,” asked Abraham.
“It’s a good faith effort,” said Melton. “It was our way of offering you some alternative to 10-years or nothing.”
Melton said serious agreement violations could be brought up with the FCC.
Alderman Kirkham Povall said his issue is not with the local office but with the main headquarters.
“I know you don’t want to discuss programming and know that we cant’ do anything about it but the only way it’s going to change is competition for the city,” said Povall, who said he believed once another company comes in Cable One will upgrade its programming.
In a previous story it was explained that programming is the responsibility of the main office not the local office.
“I’d suggest five years at the most,” said Povall. “I have a problem with the creditability with the main office not with you.”
“I’m sorry you inherited this problem cause I haven’t figured yet what purpose this (agreement) serves,” said Gary Gainspoletti.
“It gives them the right to occupy our easement,“ said board attorney Jamie Jacks, who added the agreement is non-exclusive and any company could come into Cleveland.
“But no one else is going to come in as long as we have a contract,” said Alderman Maurice Smith.