Glenville, Time Warner mired in cable quarrel
GLENVILLE Time Warner Cable and the town are still at an impasse over what the town says were fees charged to subscribers that were higher than in the original contract.
Earlier this year as the town was prepared to sign a new 10-year pact, a resident alerted town officials that the company was collecting a 5 percent “pass-through” fee from customers instead of a 2 percent fee that had been specified in the town’s current cable agreement.
The town believes that millions of dollars were mistakenly charged in the process and is seeking some type of reimbursement — perhaps through a public benefit project.
Time Warner officials said they believe they did nothing wrong. The town is considering a lawsuit and wants the cable company to stop collecting the fee.
“We obviously disagree with their opinion,” said Supervisor Chris Koetzle. “We will vigorously defend our residents’ rights. We will pursue this as far as we need. It’s fairly clear. A contract is a contract.”
The town will obviously hold off on signing a new deal until this is resolved, Koetzle said. The existing agreement will remain in place.
Time Warner spokeswoman Lara Pritchard said the company believes it has done nothing wrong.
“We’re confident that we’ve acted as appropriate as provided by law and the correct franchise amount has been paid to the town in full and the correct amount has been passed through,” she said.
The company disagrees that the franchise agreement only allowed a 2 percent pass-through fee. A 5 percent pass-through is standard, and in any case, the money was paid to the town, not to Time Warner Cable, she said.
Under federal regulations in place since the early 1990s, Pritchard said, cable companies have the right to pass through the entire franchise fee.
Glenville Town Attorney Michael Cuevas said the town has not fully researched the case law on the subject but believes that the company’s claims are not accurate.
“Nothing we can find would bar a contract from limiting the pass-through [fee] to 2 percent,” he said.
Cuevas noted that Time Warner is only citing one case — Texas Coalition of Cities vs. FCC, also referred to as the Pasadena case — that was decided in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
“That would seem to indicate that they are not aware of any other cases that support their view,” he said.
He is planning to make a presentation to the board at its meeting on March 16 at 7:30 p.m.
In a related issue, the Town Board meetings are going to be shown on Channel 17, on the Saratoga County public access station. Glenville’s cable signal originates from Saratoga County as part of a holdover from the last cable contract. Its meetings are not going to be shown on the Open Stage Media public access because the town is not going to contribute $5,000 to the organization.