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City, Insight Discussing Expired Franchise Agreement

Monday November 21, 2011

Notice of termination sent to Insight in case resolution can’t be reached

Louisville Metro Government and Insight Communications, which have been negotiating a new franchise agreement since January, have not been able to reach a deal – and this week the city notified Insight that the franchise could be terminated.

In a letter delivered to Insight executives Thursday, Mayor Greg Fischer and County Attorney Mike O’Connell said the city remains willing to continue negotiations but that certain conditions — such as maintaining a customer call center in Louisville — are important to the city.

“My administration and the County Attorney have worked to protect cable customers and ensure that the services that exist today will exist tomorrow,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach an agreement.”

By law, the city has to officially notify Insight of its plans to terminate the franchise, which occurred on Thursday with the letter. Fischer said he hopes that a deal can be reached but that all options, including termination, must now be considered.

Fischer said the city will allow Insight to continue to provide its service until a new cable provider is awarded franchise rights, and he welcomed private sector competition to provide cable services to Louisville citizens.

Louisville had two franchise agreements with Insight, based on the political boundaries of the former city and the former county. Without an agreement, Louisville plans to end the city franchise on Dec. 19, 2011; the county agreement on Dec. 31. The franchise agreements officially expired on March 31, 2010 and Dec. 20, 2009 – but Insight has been operating on a month-to-month basis.

Among other things during negotiations that were rejected by Insight were the company keeping its customer service call center — which employs approximately 900 people — in Louisville. Insight declined to continue its current practice of providing cable at no charge to government buildings and schools and providing mini-cable boxes to the elderly, disabled and poor citizens. Further, Insight sought relaxed customer service measures, which would be well below the recommended Federal Communications Commission’s standards.

Time Warner announced recently that it planned to acquire Insight and has asked Louisville Metro to approve a transfer of Insight’s franchise to Time Warner. Unless the city and Insight can reach a deal for renewal or formal extension, the existing arrangements will terminate and there will be no franchise to transfer.

The city will take all steps necessary to ensure that cable service to customers is uninterrupted.