Fort Wright voted to renew their franchise agreement with Spectrum at an Aug. 2 city council meeting.
Cable companies enter these agreements with cities to install lines and other infrastructure in the city’s public right-of-way. In exchange, they pay the city a franchising fee, which generates a small amount of revenue for the city.
Fort Wright Mayor Tom Litzler their current franchise agreement has been in effect since 1980. It has been revised several times as the company has changed names and owners.
“First and foremost, federal and state regulations [on franchise agreements have changed]. They change primarily because the cable companies spend a ton of money with lobbyists to get the laws changed to their advantage. And while that’s understandable, it kind of changes the outlook when you’re negotiating with a company. [You have to consider] how they view the value of what you’re offering to them as a franchise,” Litzler said.
On top of that, technology has changed, and the nature of what these companies offer has shifted. As a result of these changes, there is far less competition between cable companies. Still, some cities like Fort Wright have franchise agreements with multiple companies. Currently, Fort Wright has active agreements with Spectrum and Altafiber.
“I don’t mind saying that I believe that our residents are better off because we have two cable companies to choose from,” Litzler said.
After several years of negotiation, the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky, who negotiated the contract for the city, decided that the current agreement is the best option for the 17 cities they negotiate cable franchises on behalf of.
“I’m not real happy with this franchise agreement recommended to you,” Litzler said. “But I can tell you that it is the best that can be done. And I’m still confident that you and our residents are protected by the things laid out in this particular agreement.”
Council approved the ordinance, which indicated their approval of the franchise agreement. A second reading of the ordinance will be held and voted on at the September council meeting.