By Jason Ruff
The Meridian Times
Comcast will no longer be in control of cable television for Meridian Township.
The Meridian Township Board unanimously approved a transfer of cable control from Comcast Corp. to GreatLand Connections Inc. (a Comcast spin-off) during the Feb. 17 meeting.
“The new company will continue to offer top-quality video, broadband and voice services, and stay committed to providing customers with outstanding service and support,” said Michelle Gilbert, a representative from Comcast. “Our robust, reliable cable network will remain in place, and it will continue to be managed by well-trained and experienced personnel.”
The transfer comes as a result of Comcast divesting some of its assets to avoid federal anti-monopoly laws, following an expected merger with Time Warner Inc. The Mid-Michigan area is one assets that is being divested.
“We were in negotiations for quite some time to agree to the specific conditions that we felt we needed to protect the services that Meridian Township residents have come to rely on,” said Treasurer Julie Brixie. As a result of the negotiations, there will be little to no change in programming access or rates to customers. According to Brixie, “We will keep all of our channels, everything that everyone has right now they will continue to have and there isn’t going to be any rate increase related to the sale.”
In addition to providing regular programming, Comcast has also agreed to provide Meridian Township with $13,000 to help cover legal expenses incurred by the township during the negotiations.
While the transfer may be a done deal, there is still much to be discussed and negotiated regarding Meridian’s cable access.
“We have a whole ‘nother issue that’s still out there that hasn’t been resolved and that’s the renewal of our franchise agreement” said Trustee Ronald Styka. A franchise agreement, Styka explained, is an agreement between a cable provider and a community as to what kind of service the cable company will provide and how much the community will have to pay for it.
Styka revealed that the board is still in negotiations to renew Meridian’s franchise agreement, and will be until July 31.
According to Styka, “between now and July 31st, yes, the community is protected. We’re going to get the same service we’ve been getting.”