TCI Cablevision of Utah is less than four weeks away from the expiration of its 25-year franchise agreement with Provo.
Provo officials met twice with cable company representatives to negotiate a new contract, according to Provo City Attorney Gary Gregerson, and are now waiting for TCI to come back with a detailed proposal for a renewed franchise agreement.TCI State Manager Dan McCarty expects the negotiations to be "fruitful," and McCarty said TCI plans to improve its system in Provo - if talks are successful.
City officials held public hearings on Provo's cable service last spring. Public comment was overwhelmingly negative, with residents complaining about limited service area, poor reception and fewer channels on the basic service than offered in neighboring communities by a different cable company.
Provo hired a consulting firm, Municom, to help it with negotiations with TCI. Municom is experienced with the cable television industry and has the technical expertise needed by Provo, Gregerson said.
The city asked the cable company to upgrade Provo's system, to provide service to all of Provo and to improve its technical and customer service, Gregerson said.
Vicki Hansen, general manager of the Provo office of TCI, said the cable company is now doing some maintenance and repair work beyond normal service calls. There has been an average of five extra technical workers from other TCI cable service areas working in Provo for the last six weeks, Hansen said.
"We are planning to add two new channels by the first of the year," Hansen said. Additional equipment is being installed to increase the capacity of the cable lines to carry the channels.
A Salt Lake independent station, KXIV Channel 14, and PSN (Prime Sports Network) are being added to the basic service, Hansen said. PSN will carry Jazz basketball games. Both stations have been widely requested, Hansen said.
McCarty said Provo will have a better system with the fiber-optic technology now available than it would have had if TCI had upgraded the system five years ago.
"There has been a major advance in cable television technology in the last few years," he said.