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Town of Massena sending Comcast franchise agreement to attorney for free review

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MASSENA — While the town of Massena has gone more than a year without having a franchise agreement in place with Time Warner Cable, town officials voted this week to send a new franchise agreement from Comcast to an attorney for a free review.

Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said the town had held off signing a new agreement with Time Warner Cable because the company was asking the town to sign a 15-year deal.

Following the recent merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast, Mr. Gray said, he was contacted by a law firm volunteering to do a free review of Comcast’s franchise agreement.

“Their hope would be we would then hire them if there were any issues found within the document,” Mr. Gray said. “We could take that free review, though, and look at it.”

Councilman Albert N. Nicola said he thought that was a good idea.

“Right now we don’t have a franchise agreement, and we’re going day to day. How will the transfer to Comcast affect that?” he asked.

Mr. Gray said the letter from Comcast accompanying the agreement encouraged the town to sign the agreement and return it as soon as possible.

“The letter from Comcast says, ‘Oh, don’t worry, everything carries over, just sign it,’” Mr. Gray said, adding that if the town were to sign the agreement, it would receive $40,000 each year from the company.

The downside to that is the company doesn’t actually pay the money itself.

“If you elect to take the franchise fee, that gets passed on to the ratepayers,” Mr. Nicola said.

Mr. Gray agreed.

“The company doesn’t pay any of that. It comes right out of the customer’s pocket,” he said.

At this point town officials aren’t sure if they will approve the agreement, but the Town Council did vote 4-0 to send it to an attorney to have it reviewed.

“I don’t have any problem doing that,” Councilman John F. Macaulay said.

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