Insight Communications says Metro Government has overreached in its threat to end the cable provider’s contract with the city.
Insight’s franchise agreement expired last year, but the provisions have remained in effect as the mayor’s office has negotiated a new contract. After months of negotiations with no agreement, the mayor’s office announced last week it would end Insight’s contract next month and seek a new cable operator.
In a letter, Insight says federal law does not give the city the right to cancel the contract, even if it’s expired. Insight reads the law to say the city music conduct formal proceedings and put together a public needs assessment. All talks with the company have been informal. Time Warner is in the process of buying Insight. In another letter, the company has asked the mayor’s office to renew the franchise until Insight is sold, then extend the contract for six months after the sale. During that time, the city could negotiate with Time Warner.
The County Attorney’s office is reviewing the letter, but contends the city can cancel the expired contract if proper notice is filed. Neither Insight nor the mayor’s office expects the standoff to affect service for cable customers.
Throughout negotiations, the city had sought several promises from Insight. One was that basic cable would continue at the same price. Another stipulated that Metro TV would be a part of the basic package. But other guarantees couldn’t be secured.
“We wanted to make sure that the services that are provided today, which include cable that’s donated to all local schools, to government buildings, mini-boxes that are donated to the elderly and disabled people, continue under the new agreement and we have not been able to get that agreement yet with Insight,” said mayor’s spokesman Chris Poynter last week.
The mayor’s office also wanted a guarantee that Insight’s call center would remain in Louisville. A statement on Insight’s response is forthcoming.
The mayor has released the following statement:
“I continue to call on Insight to negotiate in good faith with us. Many attempts at productive negotiations have been avoided or ignored by Insight. It is time for them to stop posturing and get to work on this agreement, including the vital issue of keeping the 900 Insight customer call center jobs in this community.”
And County Attorney Mike O’Connell has released this statement:
“Mayor Fischer and I strongly stand by the Termination Notices and the legal basis for their issuance. Notwithstanding the Termination Notices, however, Metro stands willing to continue negotiations with Insight and/or Time Warner and we are hopeful that a resolution can be reached. Metro is not prepared to rescind such notices until an agreement has been reached with regard to renewal or an extension of the expired franchise agreements.”