Commission approves cable television franchise agreement with Emery Telcom
Emery Telcom was at the Emery County Commission meeting to discuss the cable television franchise agreement with the commission to govern customers outside the municipalities.
Jared Anderson was representing Emery Telcom. Emery Telcom is getting ready to launch a new television service to Emery County and surrounding areas. The service will be transmitted through existing phone lines. Emery Telcom is in the process of acquiring Precis Communications and hopefully that sale will be completed by Jan. 30.
Commissioner Gary Kofford had a question about encroachment permits. He told Anderson that anytime new lines need to be laid or repairs made then Emery Telcom will be required to have an encroachment permit when dealing with county roads. "Anytime you are dealing with a county road, the county needs to know about it," said Kofford.
Anderson said they would obtain all the proper permitting needed. If a line is severed which interrupts service then the person responsible for cutting the line will be responsible for the repair. Morris Sorensen from the road department said there hasn't been many problems with line cutting in the past by county equipment.
Commissioner Kofford wondered about the community channel that Emery Telcom is planning to launch when their new TV service becomes available. Anderson said they have hired a video editor, Micah Iverson and built a studio in the Price office. They are partnering with the College of Eastern Utah and the local high schools to film their events for broadcast on the new local channel. Community events will be posted, a cooking show, Division of Wildlife Resources spot, business highlights and other activities. One feature will be the County Crusin' segment which will feature attractions from around the area.
The local channel will become available when the new TV is launched. It doesn't work to push the local channel over the existing cable network, but the local channel will work when the new system is launched. Programming will also include surrounding areas including Vernal, Moab, Escalante and points in between.
The local channel will also accept submissions and will possibly cover county and city meetings. They will offer ads on the channel and possibly commercials. They hope to offer a listing of community events and community calendar also.
Emery Telcom is incurring expenses on the cable to digital expenses. In the past you could pull channels like 2, 4 and 5 for free, but these channels are now charging for their content.
Anderson said the new TV system is being tested in 10 homes and they are working to resolve issues but it looks good right now that the new TV service will be available by late February. Emery Telcom is still trying to get agreements signed with HBO and Turner. These are key programmers and the TV could launch without them but Anderson wants the total package intact when it is launched.
Commissioner Kofford said he is interested in the local channel because the Emery County channel 26 just went off the air. There is an expense of $120,000 to get the equipment necessary to broadcast channel 26 in digital and it takes six-eight months for that equipment to become available once purchased. Commissioner Kofford said they shut it off to see what the public demand is for this channel and whether or not it is worth the expense involved to bring it back up again. The county asked for input on this channel and for people to call the commissioner if they wanted to see it brought back. Thus far, he said they have only received about 10 phone calls in support of channel 26. He doesn't see that the expenses involved are worth the interest. There is also an $1,100 a month operating expense for the person who kept channel 26 going.
Anderson said if the county decides to get the necessary equipment to keep the channel going then Emery Telcom would carry the channel for them.
Anderson said they would work with the county to provide basic service to the county buildings for just the cost of the equipment. Right now for channels 2-13 there is just a minimal fee.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks had a question about the number of channels provided on the current cable system and why Carbon County users had more channel choices than Emery County users. He said people ask him that all the time and he didn't know the answer.
Shane Baggs from Precis Communications said when there are fewer subscribers in an area that it is harder to provide rural areas with all the same services as a larger area with more subscribers. It is more expensive and fewer services are provided to rural areas.
Anderson said when the new TV system is in place with the infrastructure involved uniform service will be available and rural users will see the same product as users within larger areas.
The commissioners approved the cable television franchise agreement with the additional language on the TV service to county buildings and the encroachment permits.
Baggs from Precis Communications requested the commission terminate the franchise agreement with Precis. Commissioner Kofford said in the past when the cable companies switched ownership then the agreement stayed in place and the names were changed, but this time Emery Telcom wanted a new agreement. The commission agreed to cancel the agreement with Precis.