City set to negotiate with Charter Cable

By Tom Darby
Tribune Staff
Nov. 22 , 2005

Residents of Sparks were given the chance to voice their opinions and give suggestions regarding the renewal of the city's cable television franchise with Charter Communications, Inc., during a special meeting of the Sparks Citizens Advisory Committee on Saturday. Only two citizens appeared before the Committee.

Andrew Barbano gave the committee an 18-page document outlining 12 steps that he believes the committee needs to address during its renewal process with Charter.

"I urge you to read this handout," Barbano said.

Barbano also held up a red three-inch binder, showing it to the Advisory Committee.

"This is what a $54,000 study looks like," Barbano said. "That is how much Reno paid for this document. You can learn from it for free."

The current contract expires Oct. 31, 2006, and public input is a key factor in the renewal process. The Sparks City Council assigned the responsibility to the Sparks Citizens Advisory Committee in June of this year.

Chairperson Jan Gould explained that the purpose of the committee's Saturday meeting was to gather testimony, summarize the information and report the results to the council.

Committee member Steve Driscoll said that by the end of this year, city officials expect to establish a timetable for negotiating the franchise renewal.

"I cannot give a specific time when we'll start negotiations," Driscoll said. "But we do expect to have some sort of report prepared and presented to the City Council by December or January."

Advisory Committee members agreed that they did not like the 15-year contract the City of Reno negotiated because it lacked leverage. Instead, they concluded that five years seemed to be a more workable period of time when it came to a contract.

The only other Sparks resident to speak was George Brown. He told the committee that he was happy with the current cable contract with Charter.

"I'm very excited for the approval of the cable," Brown said. "I'm supportive of it. I'm fairly new to the area, about two years and just wanted to show my support."

It remained unclear if there would be further Sparks Citizens Advisory Committee meetings dealing with the issue of gathering more information on Charter Cable, Inc.

"We may have one more meeting to visit this topic," Driscoll said. "Then again, we may have collected enough information to proceed. We'll have to see."

Gould added to Driscoll's statement, "We're not like Reno. We know and talk to our neighbors, so we have a pretty good idea what they want in a cable system."

Copyright © 2005 Daily Sparks Tribune
Used by permission

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