LACONIA — Comcast officials expressed hope Wednesday that they will be able to reach an agreement with the city to provide cable television services in Laconia.
On Monday, the City Council delayed a vote on a 10-year franchise agreement that would have allowed Comcast to go into competition with Atlantic Broadband, now the sole franchise holder for cable television in Laconia.
The Gilford Board of Selectmen last week gave Comcast a cable television franchise in that town.
A sticking point has arisen in Laconia, where City Councilor Bruce Cheney wants local safety officials – such as the police chief or fire chief – to be able to break into programming in case of an emergency. That option is not part of the Comcast proposal, but is offered by Atlantic Broadband.
Marc Goodman, a spokesman for Comcast, did not comment Wednesday on whether the company would agree to Cheney’s request, but said the company complies with all federal and state requirements for the Emergency Alert System.
He said company officials have had positive discussions with the city over the last few weeks and are hopeful of coming to an agreement that will meet the needs of the city, residents, local businesses and the company. He also noted that there are a variety of modern methods for emergency communication such as phone or text notifications.
Cheney, the former director of the State Division of Emergency Services & Communications, said he would like to see local competition in cable television, but wants to see Comcast work to resolve his concerns about a local option for emergency notification, or help with a possible phone-based system.
“I find it disingenuous to say you can’t do it,” he said. “I guess I’m concerned. Do I want to approve a company that I don’t think is being accurate?”
His concerns led the City Council to table the matter at its Monday night meeting and recommend more examination of the emergency notification issue.
If the council ultimately approves the 10-year franchise agreement, Comcast would pay the city $9,600 yearly, or $96,000 over the life of the contract.