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UC Council joins broil over Charter lineup

UC Council joins broil over Charter lineup

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 8:55 pm
By: Donna Ryder Messenger Associate Editor

 

By DONNA RYDER Messenger Associate Editor Union City Council members are unhappy about Charter Communications’ pulling television stations that showed up on channels 3, 4 and 5 from its basic lineup. Their advice to Union City residents is to keep calling Charter and voicing their displeasure. City manager Don Thornton told the council he was not aware the change was happening until he started getting phone calls Friday. In fact, City Hall received about 100 calls on Friday alone and has since received close to 200 calls. “People are concerned about it,” Thornton said, adding Mayor Terry Hailey has been speaking with Charter officials trying to work out the situation. He said since Tennessee passed a state franchise, it voided any terms which had been in the city’s franchise. “We couldn’t have done anything about the lineup anyway, except to express our concerns,” he said. Hailey said not much hope was being given on Friday about getting channel 5 from Nashville and channels 3 and 4 from Memphis back in the lineup, because Charter is only required by the Federal Communications Commission to carry the Paducah, Ky.-Harrisburg, Ill.-Cape Girardeau, Mo., stations in Obion, Lake and Weakley counties. The designated television market area for the Memphis stations comes to the Dyer/Obion county line, while the Nashville market comes to the Henry/Weakley county line. “We’re in a strange market area,” the mayor said. The reason given for pulling the stations in the first place was to add more high definition stations, which require more bandwidth, to the programming, he said. Hailey said on Friday he was informed by Nick Pavlis, director of governmental relations for Charter Communications, that a flyer had been sent to customers concerning the change in programming. The mayor said Pavlis admitted this week that no such letter had ever been sent. Hailey said he has also learned that Charter does have the discretion to put those channels back in the lineup. Hailey said Congressman John Tanner has his people working with Charter lobbyists in Washington, D.C. to try to rectify the situation. (See related story.) State Rep.-elect Judy Barker and State Sen. Roy Herron are also working on the problem. “To me, it looks like 100 percent of their customers are opposed (to the removal of the stations),” Hailey said, adding he thinks Charter officials thought on Friday that the matter would go away, but they may be thinking differently now. “The best thing to do is to keep calling. The more people who call the better,” Hailey said. The council requested city attorney Jim Glasgow Jr. write a letter to Charter on behalf of the citizens of Union City expressing their displeasure with the change. Glasgow, who stated he was speaking as a citizen of Union City and not as the city’s attorney, said it is also very unfair to the residents of Union City who do not have HD receivers. He said they just lost three channels and received a notice that their bill would go up $13 per month. It was noted that Union City residents had to fight Charter many years ago to get Channel 5 in the cable lineup. At that time, then-Sen. Al Gore assisted in the effort. In other business, after the meeting was opened in prayer by Glasgow, the council: • Approved on second and final reading a contract with Solutia Healthcare Inc. regarding collection of unpaid fines and court costs. • Accepted the Nov. 4 election results as presented by the Obion County Election Commission • Set a public hearing for Jan. 6 at 5:30 p.m. concerning annexation of property near Discovery Park of America. • Commended Robin Wood on his light display. • Reminded citizens of Union City that Reelfoot Pond was to be stocked with trout today and that parking for fishing is limited to the former Reelfoot Packing Co. parking lot. Fishermen are not to park in the animal clinic’s parking lot or in the drive or on the grass. “There are few places where you can park on a paved parking lot and walk 10 feet to fish,” Hailey said. It was added that there are trash cans at the pond and that trash should not be thrown on the bank or in the pond. • Was asked by Brandy Moubray what the city is doing about updating the dog ordinance after a child was bitten by a dog. The animal had also attacked a police officer. Thornton said the city has received several sample ordinances and the council will discuss the matter at its next orientation session. Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by e-mail at dryder@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 12.17.08

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