Share this article

print logo

Town of Batavia considers Empire Access cable TV franchise application

BATAVIA – Town Supervisor Gregory H. Post, while acknowledging that competition is a good thing, said he is taking a cautious approach before recommending the approval of a cable television franchise application from Empire Access, a telecommunications company based in Prattsburgh, Steuben County.

“We look at this as a boilerplate agreement – a model agreement for the town and other communities in the future – so the wording (of the contract) needs to be right,” Post said after a public hearing and the town’s monthly board meeting Wednesday night.

Brian J. Ketchum, vice president and general manager for Empire Access, was the lone speaker at the public hearing. He said his company offers phone service in the Genesee County hamlet of East Pembroke, and has a cable TV/phone/Internet presence in 17 municipalities in New York.

“We believe that people should have a competitive choice,” said Ketchum, who is seeking cable agreements for Empire Video Services Corp. and Community Cable Corp., divisions of Empire Access.

He said that his company provides communication services via 100 percent fiber-optic connections – with more than 250 digital TV channels, including high definition, and Internet download speeds of 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of 20 Mbps.

“It’s a nonblocking network where customers do not have to share the fiber coming into their house,” he said.

Empire Access would pay the town a franchise fee of 5 percent based on revenues, which is the same as the town’s current agreement with Time Warner Cable.

Post said the board wants an itemized list of the company’s gross revenues and a thorough definition of all industry-related terms before granting a video franchise agreement.

“The product is changing so rapidly that we need some concurrence to ensure that customers are treated equitably and fairly,” he said. “We hope to have this ironed out sooner rather than later.”

Post said the board will consider the application at next month’s meeting as long as “the details can be ironed out by then.”

In another development, the board scheduled public hearings for July 15 on proposals to form water and sanitary sewer districts for the Oakwood Hill subdivision off East Main Street Road, east of the city limits.