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Town to get new cable provider

The Town of Jonesborough will soon have new cable service due to Comcast’s being forced to split its cable franchise to an independent company when it became too big after its Time Warner merger.
Town Administrator Bob Browning said when 51 percent of the ownership or corporation has changed, it has to come back to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for approval of that change.
Mayor Kelly Wolfe said Comcast has been ordered to divest itself of certain franchises around the country, one of which is in Jonesborough.
“We will be seeing a change in cable operator,” he said.
The new services will go through Midwest Cable, led by President and CEO Michael Willner.
According to the town, once Comcast combines the franchise with Midwest Cable, it will become the fifth largest cable television provider in the country.
“Charter is going to be doing the billing and programming for us,” Browning said. “All the programming is going to be the same.”
The rates and the agreement will remain the same.
“Nothing changes as far as the operation, other than the name,” Browning said.
According to an email sent to the town by Comcast Vice President of Government Affairs Klayton Fennell, “Midwest Cable’s strategic regionalized footprint will allow for a focused and efficient delivery of high-quality and innovative services to its customers.”
Before the new contract was approved during the Oct. 6 meeting, Alderman Adam Dickson shared concerns about Comcast advertising dollars in the area. He said historically Comcast had a foundation where the company has been very involved in its communities.
“I was just wanting to make sure that Midwest Cable would be as much of a corporate citizen,” Dickson said. “I think it is very important to Jonesborough whether it is cash or in-kind resources. If Midwest Cable wants to be the provider for our community, dollars come back or in-kind resources come back to the community.”
He said that he was assured that would happen.
As part of the franchise agreement, Dickson said it is stipulated that the Town of Jonesborough would receive a public channel access.
“I think that would be awfully positive for the town and all the resources that we have,” he said. “I think that is something that we need to be very mindful of.”
Browning said the agreement states that Midwest Cable will provide the channel and the timing for the program.
“Their staff would have to work with us, and we would have to come up with programming to go on that channel,” he said.
If the town does not fill the designated time for the channel, Midwest Cable is allowed to fill the channel with programming.
Wolfe said the access channel could be used for event-related announcements, broadcasting of the Yarn Exchange or different things that are going on around town.
“Our tourism staff would not dislike the idea of having a free media outlet 24/7,” he said.
Browning said they are working on a proposal that would provide the town with the kind of equipment they would need to use.
“We have about five or six different projects that rely on that equipment,” he said. “We would just add this as another one.”