Glenville has temporarily pulled the plug on a new cable contract with Time Warner until what it calls a $2 million mistake in its current agreement is resolved.
The town was set to approve a new 10-year pact but it has not yet received answers to its question about why the cable company was keeping 5 percent of the fees from customers — the so-called “pass-through” — instead of the 2 percent that had been specified in the contract.
“We believe we cannot go forward with a new agreement until that’s settled,” said Supervisor Chris Koetzle.
The error was pointed out by an alert resident during a privilege of the floor at a board meeting, according to Koetzle.
The resident is a self-described “industry insider,” who scrutinized all of his cable bills and spotted the discrepancy.
Town officials have alerted Time Warner but have yet to hear back from them, Koetzle said.
The town was prepared to sign a new contract, which would earn some new revenue for the town, but it is holding off until the problem is corrected. “That’s kind of frustrating. It’s important enough to get this corrected for the ratepayers,” Koetzle said.
He added it would be difficult for the residents to be reimbursed because of the time that has passed in the contract. Some people who have cable now may not have had it at some point in the past 10 years and vice versa. Instead, the town would look for some type of public benefit project that Time Warner could do, for example upgrades to Maalwyck Park.
A representative for Time Warner could offer few specifics about what it could do in this situation.
“We are actively reviewing all related franchise documents for Glenville at this time,” said spokeswoman Lara Pritchard in a statement. “Our company takes these negotiations very seriously and we will thoroughly investigate any related concerns.”
This is just the latest in a series of issues regarding cable in Glenville. Koetzle used his comments at a recent board meeting to clarify a newspaper editorial on the subject.
Koetzle said Glenville was never consulted about the switch from SACC-TV to Open Stage Media, which is under the direction of Proctors.
The town currently receives its cable feed from Saratoga County as part a holdover from when the contract was held by Saratoga Cablevision. Glenville has offered to pay $12,000 to make the switch to get on the Schenectady system. Koetzle said he considered that a good faith gesture.
Now, Open Stage Media is seeking a larger contribution from Glenville. It initially was seeking 25 cents monthly per ratepayer.
“You say that’s not good enough,” Koetzle said.
The town is moving in the direction of streaming its meetings on the Internet, so Koetzle questioned the investment in cable access. “It doesn’t really bring any more value that we can discern to the residents,” he said.
Koetzle said he asked for a joint meeting on cable issues with the surrounding communities but one has not been scheduled.