Charter extends service to more local residents

Charter extends service to more local residents

By: Donna Ryder Messenger Associate Editor

By DONNA RYDER Messenger Associate Editor Union City residents on Hayes Street will soon be able to get cable service. Charter Communications of-ficials informed Union City Council members Tuesday night that even though it is not financially practical for the company to expand to provide service to the eight homes there, lines should be run no later than September. Nick Pavlis, director of government relations for Tennessee and Louisiana, told the council that he has put in a request to fund the project. Despite the fact that Charter estimates it will only receive about $220 per month from those customers for the $60,000 investment, the city’s franchise agreement states the company will offer service to every resident within the city limits. In that regard, Union City’s franchise agreement is unique, Pavlis said, stating other cities he deals with have a minimum number of homes per mile before service is required. The average is 25 homes, he said. Councilman Johnny Bacon asked Charter officials, even with serving these few customers on Hayes Street, if the franchise in Union City is profitable for the company. Pavlis replied it is profitable. Bacon then remarked that Charter should view the expansion like a farmer does his farm land — he has to take some bad acreage to get the good acreage. While Charter officials were available, council members took the opportunity to ask them other questions about local service. Mayor Terry Hailey asked about the possibility of Union City getting videos on demand. Pavlis said the company is concentrating on getting more high definition stations on the local service. Tony Fox, director of operations for West Tennessee, said videos on demand is not budgeted for the area. Pavlis said while videos on demand is vital, the two services — VOD and HD — have to be weighed and there is more demand for HD stations. Hailey also asked how long it would be before a person could just pick the channels he wanted to purchase. Pavlis said the notion is a popular one and the company would love to do it, but the reality is that it probably won’t happen because of revenues. Also, he said the cost would be twice as much for the same number of channels. Area Charter customers who were hoping for the NFL station soon need not hold their breath. In response to Jim Glasgow Jr., who prefaced his question about the station by saying he was asking as a consumer and not as the city’s attorney, Pavlis said Charter offers more than 100 NFL games on its current stations and that besides a few games, most of the NFL channel’s airings are reruns. He said ideally Charter would be able to add the channel to a sports tier so the cost of having the station is not charged to customers who don’t care for sports. He said conflicts between the cable company and the NFL Network have not been worked out. Councilman Billy Jack “B.J.” Cranford asked why when residents call the “1-800” number they can’t understand the person they are speaking with. Pavlis said there are several companies using virtual systems where billing is handled off shore. He said all customer service people go through a training process and that if there is a language barrier, the company needs to work on it. He said he feels it is an isolated problem. “If it were constantly like that, we would go out of business,” he said. Pavlis added the company is using service members who are trained for special issues — such as technicians, billing and sales. Cranford said it’s easy to understand the people trying to sell something, but not the people who are supposed to be helping with problems. In addition, Bacon said his wife had the occasion to call with a service problem on Sunday concerning the high speed Internet and that it “was not a pleasant experience.” Councilman Dianne Eskew said she also had a problem locally when a technician dispatched to her home was extremely rude. She said she is not the only person who has had this problem. In other business, after the meeting was opened in prayer by Glasgow, the council: • Asked that Barker Brothers be contacted about picking up limbs, as well as about collecting bins from the recent City Beautiful Commission clean-up effort. It was noted that items placed on the ground or which had fallen out of the bins also need to be gathered. • Was reminded of the public hearing set for June 17 on the annexation of property for the Discovery Park of America. • Discussed a hole on Main Street. Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by e-mail at dryder@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 6.4.08

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