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‘Dead’ and gone? AMC likely going dark Dec. 31 unless deal is reached

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Jeff Mills, the city’s electrical engineer, refers to a handout in a discussion changes to the structure of the city’s cable TV subscription rates.

 

 

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, 11:30 p.m. — Fans of AMC’s “Walking Dead” are likely to miss seeing all of the series’ mid-season marathon if the channel goes dark at midnight Thursday as anticipated.

Jeff Mills, city electrical engineer, told the Bardstown City Council Tuesday night that negotiations continue between the co-op representing the city — the National Cable TV Cooperative — and AMC Networks.

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Jeff Mills, left, discusses cable TV related issues with City Clerk Barbie Bryant.

The NCTC represents more than 800 cable providers and more than 4 million customers.

Mills said the city is committed to staying the course with the NCTC negotiations. AMC Networks’ contract ends at midnight Dec. 31, and Mills said if there is no extension offered by AMC, viewers can expect the channel to go dark.

If negotiations fail between the NCTC and AMC Networks, Mills said the cable TV rate increases set for Feb. 1 will be adjusted accordingly.

There are other ways cable subscribers can keep up with AMC programming, Mills said, including several streaming options.

“It’s not the end of the world if we don’t have ‘The Walking Dead’,” he said.

BACKGROUND. The NCTC has reported some progress in the negotiations, Mills reported. AMC was initially asking cable systems to agree to a 10-year contract; they have dropped the contract term to eight years.

But AMC Networks continue to ask for a significant rate increase (with an 8 percent increase over the term of the contract), coupled with a requirement for cable systems to add five of AMC’s additional channels to their Extended Basic schedules.

The proposed eight-year contract term is still longer than cable TV providers would like, Mills explained. Most cable TV contracts are three or five years in length.

Mills said he was concerned about the precedent it would set if the the members of the NCTC co-op — which includes about 850 small to medium-market cable operators — agreed to the eight-year contract.

RATE CHANGES. The council approved first reading of an ordinance that will lower some cable TV fees, add anticipated programming cost increases, double the residential cable internet speeds and raise each level of residential cable internet access by $3.30.

The measure reduces the basic CATV access charge inside the city limits from $18.86 to $17.12 (that includes the $10 basic access charge plus programming); outside the city limits, the charge increases slightly from $23.61 to $24.75.

The price for Expanded Basic (channels 23-77) increases from $28.35 to $42.77.

The ordinance includes rate increases for premium channels and the higher programming tiers.

The ordinance also creates an “Economy Tier” that eliminates sports channels from all subscribed programming tiers and reduces the prices of set-top box and DVR rental.

MEETING TIME CHANGED VOTED DOWN. The council unanimously voted down second reading of an ordinance that would move the city council meeting time from 7 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Councilman Roland Williams said the move would make it more difficult for constituents to attend council meetings, and may require working members of the council to leave their jobs early in order to make the earlier start time.

The council voted against the ordinance its Dec. 8 meeting, but City Attorney Tim Butler said the council needed to take a final vote on the ordinance after it was introduced on first reading Dec. 8.

Councilman Fred Hagan said he brought up the idea at the council’s Dec. 1 work session and there was no opposition to it at the time. The council’s work sessions are typically at 5 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.

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