City to address cable issues

By Tyler Vincent

The relationship between AT&T Broadband Cable and the City of DeKalb was granted two months to work out various differences between them at Monday’s City Council meeting.

The two-month extension comes at a time when the city and the cable provider are experiencing difficulty deciding an amount of time for an extension. DeKalb City Manager Jim Connors said the city would like to extend the franchise agreement over a short-term period while AT&T has expressed its wishes for a long-term agreement in upwards of 15 years.

AT&T has been criticized by area residents for such things as questionable programming reception on various channels and poor customer service. Area residents also have voiced complaints to city officials about being placed on hold for extended periods of time after calling for service.

In addition, AT&T has been criticized for not being able to meet with city officials to discuss the various concerns. Connors said this was because of turnovers that the company has experienced.

“Due to staff changes, it has been very difficult to coordinate meetings with them to discuss changes,” he said.

City staff responded to this by drafting its own proposal, which calls for improved public service measures that would require the company to answer a service call within 30 seconds.

On June 12, 1991 the city approved a franchise agreement with Warner Cable Communications Inc. for 10 years. The city also offered a two- and three-year extension, but those extensions depended upon whether the cable outlet could improve the reception on WBBM-TV (Channel 2) and WMAQ-TV (Channel 5). The deadline for compliance in improving the reception to these channels was extended to June 15, 1995.

On August 28, 1995 the council voted not to extend the franchise agreement due to non-compliance. Since that time, AT&T and TCI assumed rights to the franchise agreement.