Commissioners Sam Nolte, Kristie Tenney and commission president Terry Cutright on Thursday voted to renew a non-exclusive franchise agreement with Altice USA, doing business as Suddenlink.

County commission votes to renew non-exclusive franchise agreement with Suddenlink

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission on Thursday approved and adopted the ordinance granting a franchise renewal agreement with Suddenlink, a subsidiary of Altice USA.

The Upshur County Commission approved the third and final reading of the ordinance during Thursday’s Nov. 5 Upshur County Commission meeting. Commission President Terry Cutright read the ordinance title to everyone in attendance at the meeting.

“This is the third reading and adoption of the ‘Ordinance Granting a Renewal Franchise to Cequel III Communications II, LLC, a Delaware Limited Liability Company doing business as Suddenlink Communications, to Operate and Maintain a Cable System in the County of Upshur, West Virginia; and Setting Forth Conditions Accompanying the Grant of Franchise; Superseding All Previous Franchise Ordinances for the County Commission of Upshur County,’” Cutright read.

The commission approved the first and second readings of the ordinance at its Oct. 1 and Oct. 8 meetings and hosted a public hearing to gather comments Oct. 29. Assistant county administrator Tabatha Perry said the agreement is non-exclusive.

“Without a cable franchise agreement, a cable provider cannot operate, so therefore, if the cable franchise agreement is not renewed by the commission, there wouldn’t be an option for cable TV in Upshur County outside of corporate limits,” Perry said. “Cable franchise agreements are non-exclusive, meaning that multiple agreements may be executed.”

“If a new cable provider would like to expand service into Upshur County, an existing cable franchise agreement would not prevent them from doing so, but as of today’s date no other cable providers have been in contact with your office,” Perry added.

Perry said community members have expressed complaints regarding Suddenlink.

“The commission is aware that many residents have experienced service issues,” Perry said. “Today we have received 13 complaints, and all of those have been forwarded to Suddenlink and have been resolved, and we will be leaving the cable franchise comment form on the website, so if residents experience problems and are unable to obtain a resolution they can submit that comment form and we will then forward on to our contact with Suddenlink.”

County administrator Carrie Wallace said during the Sept. 24 Upshur County Commission meeting that the already existing agreement expired Oct. 31.

“If you have a cable franchise agreement that’s expiring and the cable franchises ever express interest in renewing, which they have, then your current agreement extends until the renewal [today],” Wallace said. “Technically, our cable franchise agreement expires on Oct. 31, but it will continue until a new franchise agreement is executed.”

Unlike the franchise renewal with Suddenlink which technically expired Oct. 31 without service interruption as Wallace noted, the City of Buckhannon’s current franchise agreement with Suddenlink does not expire until 2023.

Sam Nolte moved to approve the agreement for five years and commissioner Kristie Tenney seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

Anyone wishing to submit a complaint or service issue may find the Suddenlink TV Cable comment form on the county’s website here.

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