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For the first time since 1996, Oldham County Fiscal Court is advertising for a new cable franchise agreement.
The court approved the advertisement at its meeting last Tuesday after receiving a short presentation from county financial officer Stan Clark.
Clark said the county had contracted with Insight Communications for nearly 20 years ago for the franchise, but it had recently lapsed with Time Warner Communications, which bought Insight.
Clark said county officials originally sought to continue the extension of the agreement, but found out such deals can only be extended up to 20 years at a time before they have to be openly bid again.
So with less than two years left to negogiate, Clark said the county decided to go ahead and open bid the process now.
“September 2016 is the furthest we could extend it, so all we could offer is a two-year agreement,” Clark told magistrates.
Clark said the bid is for a non-exclusive contract, unlike other areas, meaning multiple cable companies could bid into an agreement. And the county is obligated to take the highest and best bidder no matter what, Clark said. But no matter who bids and receives an agreement, it won’t be for as long of a term as the current one has been, he said.
“We don’t intend to offer a 20-year agreement,” he said.
Magistrates asked if anyone other than Time Warner, itself being bought out by Comcast Communications, would be interested in the county’s franchise. Clark said he thought a company like AT&T could be interested in it.
County Judge-Executive David Voegele said much of the process is out of county government’s hands due to the recent merging and spinning off of cable companies and territories.
“The market is limited,” he said. “We may have no interest from Time Warner. We don’t really have too much control.”
The magistrates unanimously approved to open the franchise agreement.
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