San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

December 8th, 2010
City council approves Time Warner agreement

STAFF REPORT

The San Marcos City Council has approved a settlement agreement Tuesday night with Time Warner Cable to digitize Public, Education and Government (PEG) channels.

San Marcos joined an eight-city coalition in September that sued Time Warner out of concern of that a mandated switch analog to digital transmission would cut off access by many customers to the city’s cable channel.

The city of broadcasts city council and planning and zoning commission meetings live. The city also runs a 24-hour message board and airs special programs and emergency notices on Time Warner Channel 10. The city broadcasts the same programs on Grande Communication Channel 16.

A digital format requires customers to have a digital converter box or a digital television to view channels. Digitizing frees up bandwidth for other video, Internet, television and telecommunications services.

The settlement allows Time Warner to digitize its PEG channels no earlier than January 8, 2011, in the coalition cities and will allow both new and existing basic tier and standard tier customers to request free converter boxes through at least March 8, 2011. Time Warner plans implementation on January 13, 2011, a company official said.

Under the agreement, basic tier customers can receive the boxes free for five years. Standard tier customers can receive them free for one year. Time Warner encourages customers to call (866) 336-0972 to request a converter box and to see if they qualify for free boxes.

The settlement also provides for city and public school facilities to receive free converter boxes. It also provides free installation of converter boxes for elderly, disabled and low income customers.

The city may collect names of customers who want boxes and forward the information to Time Warner, and the city channel may be delivered through advanced technology in the future if the city chooses to do so.

Cities in the coalition are Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Edinburg, Laredo, McAllen, San Juan, Weslaco, and the McAllen ISD. San Marcos and Brownsville were the last two cities in the coalition scheduled to vote on the settlement on Tuesday. The other cities have approved the agreement.

Time Warner converted PEG channels to digital format in other Texas cities on October 1, 2010.

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