TCI Cablevision of Utah's proposed contract with the city promises plenty of improvements to satisfy residents who have been largely unhappy with its service.
"We have everything we felt like we had to have," City Attorney Gary Gregerson said. Gregerson and Raylene Ireland, administrative assistant to Mayor Joe Jenkins, worked with TCI for nearly a year to reach the agreement.Dan McCarty, TCI state general manager, said the contract is good for both parties.
"I think that what you have to remember is that the city and the company really tried to meet the needs of the community," he said. Both TCI and city officials agreed that the negotiations were difficult.
The proposed 10-year contract was presented to the City Council on Tuesday night. Council members will take two weeks to peruse the 46-page document before deciding whether to adopt it March 19. The public will be allowed to comment on the franchise proposal before the council takes final action.
TCI plans to put more than $6 million into improving cable service in Provo. McCarty said the picture quality will be "absolutely amazing."
Shelling out that kind of money naturally raises the question of a subscription increase.
"I anticipate no real significant increase in subscription rates beyond the current rate," McCarty said. Rates will be evaluated in Provo in the same way they are in other communities. "We have every intention of keeping our prices in line with what the market will bear," he said.
TCI subscribers currently pay $17.80 a month for 20-channel basic service and $19.25 for expanded service of 25 channels. Rates went up about a $1 per month Feb. 1.
McCarty said the proposed franchise agreement will benefit Provo residents in the following ways:
- Before Dec. 31, 1992, TCI will have service available to all homes in Provo on record with the city. Within one year, 80 percent of homes not currently served will have cable available.
- TCI will provide service to network public buildings, schools and emergency centers.
- TCI will install two emergency alert systems. One system allows the city to override the audio on TV channels to advise cable customers of emergency situations. The other can connect subscribers and non-subscribers to the National Weather Service.
- Within three years, TCI will install a state-of-the-art cable system with a minimum capacity of 60 channels and will activate 41 channels.
- Within nine months, the company will install equipment that will allow customers to receive at least eight channels in full stereo.
- TCI will improve customer service standards by increasing office hours, making employees available 24 hours a day, repairing service interruptions within one service day and installing new connection within 10 service days.
- The company will establish a citizens committee to monitor its compliance with the franchise agree-ment.
"It's the company's intention of beating all of those deadlines significantly," McCarty said of the improvement projects.
The agreement also increases the city franchise fee of TCI's gross revenues from 3 percent to 5 percent.
Paul Venturella, TCI general manager for Provo, said the city would take in more than $1 million over the course of the 10-year contract.