New cable ordinance tougher on violations

By on September 25, 2010

[quote]More programming, wider service area ensured
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday approved a new cable ordinance that steps up the village’s requirements for its cable TV provider.

The cable ordinance requires any company holding the Elburn cable franchise to provide quality and timely customer service or face fines of up to $750 per day. Under the village’s previous cable ordinance, the maximum fine the village could charge its cable provider for violations was $100 per day. The ordinance also includes procedures the village may follow to enforce cable provider violations, including issuing tickets and conducting reviews and hearings on contested tickets.

In addition, future village cable providers must offer a wider range of programming than the previous ordinance required, including community and educational access stations.

The new ordinance also will ensure that more areas of the village have cable service. The village’s current cable franchise holder, Mediacom, does not extend service to some parts of the village, including Blackberry Creek. Under the new ordinance, any company having the village cable franchise in the future must provide cable service to all subdivisions in Elburn.

“They (cable providers) have to follow a timeline to provide all subdivisions with cable,” said Stu Chapman, the village’s cable consultant.“They can’t ignore the subdivisions anymore … they can’t wait forever to get (cable service) in.”

Village President Dave Anderson said the cable ordinance is separate from the new cable contract that the village is negotiating with Mediacom, which has held the Elburn franchise for more than 10 years.

“This ordinance is laying the groundwork (for any future cable contracts).” Anderson said.

The new cable ordinance does not establish the length of village cable contracts.

“The franchise term is negotiable,” Chapman said.

The new ordinance updates the cable ordinance the village approved in 1999, and it reflects new cable laws.

“This is a good opportunity to update the ordinance, in addition to the franchise agreement,” Chapman said.

Village officials expect to finalize a new cable contract with Mediacom in the near future. The contract term likely will be more than five years, Village Administrator Erin Willrett said. If the Village Board approves a new contract with Mediacom, the company must comply with all of the provisions in the village’s new cable ordinance.

Although many residents in a village survey expressed dissatisfaction with Mediacom’s services, the company is the only cable provider that currently wants to provide services in Elburn, village officials said.

Chapman said he realized Mediacom sometimes is slow to respond to customer complaints, but added that the new cable ordinance will improve the situation.

“This ordinance doesn’t allow them (the village cable provider) to play duck and cover anymore,” Chapman said. “It allows the village to take a more proactive approach in addressing violations.”

Trustee Gordon Dierschow voted against the ordinance.