CHAMPAIGN – The city council this week will review a proposed 10-year cable franchise agreement, a document that lays out the terms and conditions and fees exchanged to allow Comcast to use public property for its infrastructure.
The contract will be presented to the council when it meets in study session at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.
"We've been working on this for 4 1/2 years, and we were supported by our council and the administration to have lengthy discussions and negotiations with Comcast to try and get what we think is a fair deal," said Jeff Hamilton, the city's telecommunications technician. "And it meets the city's needs and what we think are the future cable needs of our community."
With city council support, the proposal would renew a long-standing agreement under which the city and cable providers preceding and including Comcast have operated.
The contract does not exclude any other cable providers from setting up service in Champaign-Urbana. Hamilton said the city welcomes new cable providers, but speculated that the market in the area is not dense enough to support a second.
Under the agreement, Comcast would give 5 percent of its gross revenue to the city as compensation for using city property to run its underground cables. Hamilton estimated that fee would bring about $713,000 annually to the city's general fund.
The agreement also allows the city to televise a fifth public, education and governmental access channel if officials so choose. Comcast currently provides service for four PEG channels for Champaign, Urbana, Parkland College and the University of Illinois.
"The cable commission and the city councils have been wanting (a fifth PEG channel), probably as a standalone public access channel shared with Urbana," Hamilton said.
The contract also details other "common-sense things that we want to make sure is done for public safety, and Comcast wants to do to make sure they run a good, clean system," Hamilton said.
In other business, council members are scheduled to hear an update on the six steps City Manager Steve Carter offered in December to improve the relationship between the community and the police department.
That update will include a presentation of a report that was released earlier this month and details the suggestions made by nearly 300 attendees of a March 15 community forum.