Village grants Mediacom temporary contract extension

By on June 25, 2010

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday temporarily extended Mediacom’s now-expired cable T.V. franchise agreement until September while the village negotiates the company’s next contract. But not all board members were in favor of the extension.

Trustee Jeff Walter said he did not want the village to extend Mediacom’s contract even temporarily unless it were changed to require better customer service.

“Their (Mediacom’s) service is not what it should be,” Walter said Tuesday.

The village is working along with Sugar Grove on negotiating their next contracts with Mediacom that they hope include better cable rates and more channels for residents. Both villages hired cable consultant Stu Chapman to negotiate the contract. Village Administrator Erin Willrett said Chapman is expected to negotiate the longer-term contract by September.

She added that it was Chapman’s recommendation to extend Mediacom’s contract into September, while negotiations on the next contract are finishing up. Willrett agreed with his advice.

“We could do nothing, but the possibility is, do we want them (Mediacom) to walk away?” Willrett said.

Walter said he would like to see village staff more actively pursue another vendor. He added that he would like to meet Chapman and talk to him about the issue.

“I would like to find out why we are in this position,” Walter said. “Everybody seems to think they (Mediacom) have us over a barrel, but I don’t know that I agree.”

A 2009 village survey in Elburn indicated many residents are unhappy with their cable service from Mediacom. Village officials said they plan to renew the company’s franchise contract, however, because they have no other option since no other cable providers have sought the Elburn franchise.

Village officials said Chapman has asked other cable companies to come into the village, but was told installing new lines is cost prohibitive.

Trustee Ken Anderson said Elburn may not be able to attract another cable provider because its population is too low.

Mediacom has held the village’s cable T.V. franchise for more than 10 years. In recent years, some residents have chosen to obtain service through a satellite dish rather than from Mediacom. Approximately 51 percent of Elburn households currently are Mediacom subscribers. Mediacom currently does not provide service to some areas of the village, including Blackberry Creek.

Any company providing cable service in Elburn must be franchised by the state or the village. AT&T has the state franchise for providing cable, but so far has chosen to offer cable service in more populated areas than Elburn.

The Sugar Grove Board on May 4 also approved temporary extension of the village’s cable franchise agreement with Mediacom, through Sept.7.