Parish to Cox: too many cable beefs

Two proposals to improve TV cable service passed unanimously during the first March meeting of the St. Charles Parish Council.

Councilmen Ram Ramchandran and Richard Duhe, co-sponsors of the proposals, want to increase competition in the cable television market to provide residents another cable service option.

The first resolution will create a committee to make recommendations on the franchise agreement with Cox Communications, which has been the parish’s cable provider since 1992. The company’s franchise agreement with the parish will expire Dec. 31, 2007.

The second proposal requests that Parish President Albert Laque’s administration “aggresively and immediately” seek proposals to provide an alternative cable for franchise for the parish.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald-Guide following the meeting, Duhe said: “Residents are very unhappy with cable service – it’s their No. 1 complaint and we need to do something about it.

“Ram and myself are going to Washington this week – we leave on Friday and when we get there, one of the things we plan on doing is talking to our legislatures about the cable problems we are experiencing in this parish,” Duhe continues.

Duhe and Ramchandran said the parish should consider building its own cable network as Lafayette Parish has done.

“We have met with the city president of Lafayette Parish and they are using a fiberoptic system that combines digital cable service, the internet and telephone service, and we were really impressed with the system they are using,” Duhe says.

“When we return from Washington, D.C. we plan on meeting with the Lafayette Parish Council again to get more information on their cable system.”

Duhe says residents are seeking other options besides cable service to watch television.

“One of my neighbors purchased a picture frame antenna and he gets up to 22 channels free of charge and I haven’t seen what kind of picture he’s getting , but from what he tells me the reception is good and the picture is not fuzzy,” Duhe told the Herald-Guide.

Duhe estimates the cost of the “picture-frame antenna” to be about $50.

The state Supreme Court last week ruled that the city-parish government has the right to sell $125 million in bonds to build a fiber-optic network for cable TV, telephone and Internet access, after a four-year challenge by content providers.

“Our residents were very upset when Cox raised the cable rates by four dollars and I know that they may not feel it’s alot, but for someone who is elderly and on a fixed income, this amount of money can hurt,” Duhe says.

The price for limited basic cable, which has 23 channels, did not change. It is $11.50 per month.


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