Clallam considers new 10-year cable TV franchise

Hearing on pact with Astound Broadband

PORT ANGELES — The mass media landscape has changed dramatically during the past decade — or more — with the rise of online streaming services and other content providers to compete with traditional cable TV. As a result, local governments’ cable TV franchise agreements are being reworked to catch up.

The Clallam County commissioners will conduct a public hearing on a proposed 10-year cable TV franchise agreement with Astound Broadband, successor to Wave Broadband, at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 10 in the commissioners meeting room at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 East Fourth St. in Port Angeles.

“A lot of things have happened in the cable television services industry during that time frame,” Mark Lane, county chief financial officer, told the commissioners at their Sept. 18 work session.

“The Internet did not exist at the point when the original cable TV franchise was developed (in 1992).”

The cable franchise agreement applies only to Astound’s cable TV line of services. Broadband services are exempt from franchise agreements.

Thomas Robinson from CBG Consultants (a specialized cable and broadband communications industry consultant) said he worked with Astound to not only update the agreement but also to make it forward-looking since it will last until 2033.

Among the eight or nine big changes are the expansion of gross revenues from cable TV services and the ability to add a government and public access channel such as the city of Port Angeles has (Peninsula Public Access Channel), he said.

The franchise area also was expanded to all of unincorporated Clallam County versus just those areas surrounding Port Angeles and Sequim, so Astound has the ability now to build out the entire county, Robinson said.

Lane said the county used to receive up to $250,000 annually in franchise fees, paid twice a year, but that has eroded to as little as $180,000 a year.

The new franchise agreement expands the definition of gross revenues pertaining to cable TV service, which will allow a wider range of revenue to be applied to gross revenues franchise fee, according to a staff memo to the commissioners.

Robinson said the previous franchise agreement also had no build-out provision, which has been a big issue for residents and the county.

The proposed agreement includes a $1,750 contribution from Astound, adjusted annually based upon the Seattle CPI, to help fund expanded cable TV service, he said.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at brian.gawley@soundpublishing.com.

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