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Pictured, from left, are commissioners Sam Nolte, Kristie Tenney and commission president Terry Cutright at Thursday's commission meeting.

County tables Suddenlink franchise renewal ordinance after Altice USA doesn’t send proposal

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission on Thursday tabled the first reading of an ordinance that would grant franchise renewal to Suddenlink, a subsidiary of the telecommunications company Altice USA.

The reading was tabled during the Sept. 24 Upshur County Commission meeting because commissioners had not yet received Altice USA’s proposal for renewal or the draft ordinance they planned on reading during the meeting.

Upshur County Administrator Carrie Wallace said the county – like the City of Buckhannon – has received numerous complaints regarding Suddenlink by Altice’s customer service.

“Without a cable franchise agreement, a cable provider cannot operate,” Wallace said. “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 the corporate limits.”

Wallace said if the county renews the agreement with Suddenlink, it would not stop other companies from operating in Upshur County.

“Cable franchise agreements are non-exclusive, meaning if another cable franchise provider would want to come into the county, by all means, you could execute a cable franchise agreement with them,” Wallace said. “Your existing agreement would not prevent them from coming to this area. As of today we have not been contacted by any other cable provider interested in doing that.”

Since the first reading was tabled Sept. 24, the public hearing set for Oct. 22 has also been delayed, along with all other readings and public notices.

“The timeline is going to completely change as far as the first, second, third reading, the hearing, the public advertisements – everything,” Wallace said. “I don’t want to reschedule all those dates until we get the draft order.”

Wallace said the agreement between the county and Suddenlink expires Oct. 31; however, cable services will still be provided.

“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,” Wallace said. “Technically, our cable franchise agreement expires on Oct. 31, but it will continue until a new franchise agreement is executed.”

Commissioner Sam Nolte motioned to table the reading and commissioner Kristie Tenney seconded the motion.

The City of Buckhannon has scheduled a TV/Cable Board meeting for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 30 in council chambers at city hall to discuss its potential franchise agreement renewal with Suddenlink. The franchise agreement with the city won’t expire until June 30, 2023, however.

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