Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Fischer Discusses Hospital Merger, Occupy and Insight Deal

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer appeared on CN2 Pure Politics to discuss a variety of issues, including the pending hospital merger, permits for Occupy Louisville protestors and the city’s contract negotiations with Insight Communications.

In regards to the ongoing talks with the cable company provider, the mayor said Metro Government wants a fair deal on a new franchise agreement based on what other cities have received but that Insight is too focused on its potential purchase by cable giant Time Warner, Inc. for an estimated $3 billion.

Asked if he’s prepared to cut off cable service for residents if the negotiations fail, Fischer says that would be Insight’s decision but threatened Metro Government could pull out.

“That’s not normally what happens. A new provider would come in, but we’re certainly prepared to terminate the franchise. Don’t want to! We want them to come to the table, but we’re having a hard time just even talking to them. I think they’re so caught up in this deal of Insight being purchased by Time Warner they’re remembering there are some open issues with us here,” he says.

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City’s Deadline on Insight Contract Is Today

Louisville Metro Government could cancel its contract with Insight Communications tonight at midnight, but customers won’t likely notice a change.

Insight’s contract expired last year, and the company has been going back and forth with the mayor’s office all year over a renewal. The city wants Insight to continue providing free cable to government buildings and schools, to keep giving free cable boxes to disabled and elderly customers and to keep the Insight call center in Louisville.

Last month, the mayor said unless Insight agreed, the city would end its contract and seek a new cable provider. Insight says the threat indicates a misinterpretation of federal law, and there are many more steps that have to be taken before the contract can be thrown out.

But if the contract ends, Insight will still be allowed to operate until a new provider is found. Plus, company officials have promised not to disrupt service.

Time Warner Cable is buying Insight, and the company has asked the city to renew the previous contract for six months after the sale closes so new executives can negotiate the contract.

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City Threatens to End Insight Contract, Richie Farmer Hired Girlfriend for State Job, JCPS Will Use More Local Produce, Bowling Green Draws Praise from Obama on Green Measures: Afternoon Review

In case you got a jump start on the weekend, here are some of the stories we’ve covered today.

Louisville Metro Government will cancel its contract with Insight Communications if it can’t reach a new deal over how the cable company operates soon. The city has filed the necessary paperwork to end its agreement with Insight next month unless a new contract is signed. If that happens, the city will look for a new cable provider, though Insight could continue to operate in Louisville until a new contract is signed.

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer hired his girlfriend to a $5,000 a month state job shortly before this year’s elections.

Several local farmers met with Jefferson County Public Schools staff on Thursday to claim some of its $1.7 million dollar produce budget. Last year, the district received 13 percent of its produce from local farmers. This year, the district wants to expand that to 25 percent.

And The Obama Administration is pointing to the success of federal spending in thirteen rural communities, including Bowling Green. A recent report by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities praises the Warren County City for installing energy efficient windows in public housing units and creating green jobs.

Local News Next Louisville Politics

City Threatens to End Contract With Insight

Louisville Metro Government will cancel its contract with Insight Communications if it can’t reach a new deal over how the cable company operates soon.

The city has filed the necessary paperwork to end its agreement with Insight next month unless a new contract is signed. If that happens, the city will look for a new cable provider, though Insight could continue to operate in Louisville until a new contract is signed.

The talks over a new franchise agreement began in January.

“We wanted to make sure that the services that are provided today, which include cable that’s donated to all local schools, to government buildings, mini-boxes that are donated to the elderly and disabled people, continue under the new agreement and we have not been able to get that agreement yet with Insight,” says mayor’s spokesman Chris Poynter.

The mayor’s office also wanted a guarantee that Insight’s call center would remain in Louisville.

Local News Politics

Insight Franchise Agreement Under Review in County Attorney’s Office

The Louisville Metro Council’s Public Works Committee met again Thursday without discussing one piece of legislation that’s been pending before the panel for weeks—Insight Communications’ contract with the city. But the council can’t consider the contract yet, and has no timeline to do so.

The committee approved the contract—called a franchise agreement—last year when it was up for renewal. But, when council members raised questions about whether the document should require Insight to be more open about its finances and operations, the contract was sent back to committee and its sponsors withdrew.

It’s now in the County Attorney’s office, where the city will negotiate the terms with Insight. Some council members have previously said they want more transparency requirements in the document when it comes back up for review. There’s no set date for when that must occur, and the council is expected to hold another public hearing on the contract once it’s renegotiated.

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Council Tables 15-Year Insight Agreement Renewal

The agreement that regulates how Insight Cable operates in Louisville will get another review by the Metro Council.

A council committee unanimously approved Insight’s franchise agreement last week. The full council, however, sent the agreement back to the committee Thursday due to some questions about the company’s operations.

Specifically, the council will look at why Insight waited until this month to pay more than five million dollars for taxes owed in 2009. Insight contends that the bill was late, but majority caucus spokesperson Tony Hyatt says more review may be necessary.

“There have been some members of the caucus who have been concerned that there is not enough monitoring of Insight in the light of what we’ve been finding out there in the last week or so,” he says.

Also at question is whether Insight has been open enough with the city. Hyatt says council members will review how well the cable provider has followed recommendations from a previous audit.

“This is going to be more of a situation where the committee looks at what it would like to see as far as any type of annual report or update coming from Insight, because the auditors in 2006 had recommended Insight needed to do an annual report on various areas of its operations.”

While the council may require Insight to report more frequently to the city, it’s not clear whether the body will impose more regulation on rates or services. Hyatt says cities often don’t strongly regulate cable providers.

“As the cable industry and communications in general have been deregulated over the years, the Public Service commission handles an awful lot now, the federal government with the FCC handles a lot now,” he says.

The committee that will review the document will likely meet once more this year.

Local News

Insight to Debut CN2 This Month

by Stephanie Crosby

A new cable news channel debuts later this month in Kentucky. Insight Communications is launching its Commonwealth Network on channel 2 – and calling it CN2.

Spokesperson Jason Keller says the offerings on the channel will grow as the year goes on.

“It’s going to be all weather in this initial phase, we’re going to be adding in news and politics programming,” says Keller. “From there, we’re going to begin layering in sports programming as well, sports talk format.”

Keller says the new project is the result of an Insight customer survey. He says most people indicated they wanted to see more local news.

Insight has hired Ryan Alessi – a former correspondent at the Lexington Herald-Leader – to lead its news project.

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General Manager Hired For New Arena; Sponsor Added

Louisville’s new downtown arena now has a general manager. The Kentucky State Fair Board has hired Ted Nicholson to oversee the 22-thousand seat multi-purpose building at Second and Main Streets.

“My job is to operate the facility, making sure everybody is safe, happy, content and that they are secure when they leave their car and come to the building, that they have a good time,” he said.

Nicholson previously worked for Churchill Downs, Incorporated, most recently as interim president and general manager of the company’s Calder Race Course in Miami.

The Louisville Arena Authority also announced Monday that Insight Communications has signed on as a sponsoring partner of the arena.

As part of the agreement, Insight will equip the facility with hundreds of televisions and provide high speed internet service.

The new arena is scheduled to open in November.