Cable quality issues still not decided
Truckee decision makers will dig deeper into issues of local cable television quality before deciding whether to hold cable provider Cebridge Connections in violation of its franchise agreement with the town.Outstanding questions, including the adequacy of an independent report commissioned by the town on Cebridge’s performance, will be reviewed by a town cable committee. After that review, the council will make a decision on whether to initiate a formal process that notifies Cebridge it violated the agreement with the town, and perhaps seek penalties or fees from the company.Last week, a handful of Truckee residents unloaded their frustrations about a cable television system that, even by Cebridge’s admission, has blackouts, signal disruption and sound problems.”In the last year, this is the absolute worst service we have had in 25 years,” Truckee resident Jae Gustafson said.Tahoe Donner resident Jody Zirelli came with a fresh complaint of a signal disruption during one of her favorite nighttime shows. But cable service cutting out during the middle of a program is not unusual, Zirelli said.”This seems to happen every day or every week for us,” she said. “That’s the kind of aggravation that is just constant.”Don Davis was the only person who gave Cebridge any kind of compliment, noting that cable quality has improved over the last two months. But Davis said Truckee residents are still frustrated by cable service cutting out.”If you want a measure [of the problem], drive around and count all the satellite dishes,” Davis said. “I bet all of those people were originally cable customers.”Some members of the town council, after hearing the comments, were ready to begin a franchise violation process that could lead to fines or penalties. But the council decided to wait until several questions about the cable report and a disagreement over whether franchise fees were overpaid or underpaid are settled.”At this point I think additional testing is needed,” said Councilman Craig Threshie, who said he didn’t have faith that the independent report did adequate testing. “We’ve all put up with garbage for signal for so long that the 75 cent [rebate proposed by Cebridge] is just a slap in the face.” Pete Abel, Cebridge Connections vice president of community relations, defended his company, noting the cable system is in the middle of upgrades that will improve service and cable quality.”On the road to progress there is some mess along the way,” Abel said.He suggested that Cebridge and the town start a citizens panel to review problems with the cable system and improve communication.”We are committed to ongoing improvements,” Abel said.Abel also noted that his company had found more than $20,000 in overpaid franchise fees when reviewing records that would cancel out what the town said was more than $15,000 in underpaid fees before Cebridge took over as the cable provider. Councilwoman Barbara Green said the town needs to take the time to get everything right before accepting the cable television review or reauthorizing the franchise agreement.”This is a precedent,” Green said. “This is a franchise agreement. We have other franchise agreements and we need to get it right.”
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