Reno City Council considers settlement with Charter
From Barbwire by Barbano
Daily Sparks Tribune 10-19-2008


CABLE CHUTZPAH. At the invitation of Carson City Supervisor Pete Livermore, I updated Carson and Douglas County officials on the machinations of the region's cable monopoly to destroy public, educational and governmental (PEG) access TV stations.


Charter and Reno deals both mean a community TV death sentence
Barbwire Web Edition

Back to work
Reno City Council reviews defective, deflective Charter cable settlement as FCC investigation opens
Daily Sparks Tribune

Analysis of Reno's Charter deal: Caveat Emptor
Barbwire by Barbano
Daily Sparks Tribune

Council to review deal on Nov. 10
Reno Gazette-Journal
The above link will go stale in seven days.

Read the
proposed settlement

Stay tuned to Barbwire.TV

Charter Communications' point grease man George Jostlin offered Carson City nothing.

The capital's two analog community channels are slated for a slow death after banishment to the higher-cost, lower-audience, low-surfing digital tier so that the near-bankrupt cable operator can skim the bandwidth for lucrative high-definition channels.

In return, George of the Jungle threw the supervisors a bone: Charter will run delayed broadcasts of supervisor meetings on its infomercial channel.

At least they offered the City of Reno a phony deal to provide free digital receivers for one year to the 20,000 or so Washoe County viewers without them.

I noted to the Carson officials that on this issue, Charter is like tobacco companies when they fund teen anti-smoking campaigns: they are all in favor of doing anything that they know won't work.

Charter's proposal would put the onus on customers to apply for the digital receivers, a guarantee that few would do so.

Another 15,000 ratepayers outside Washoe can't view programs on the digital tier.

Most of those are in Carson City, where Charter enjoys a monopoly of about six in 10 households.

Two Douglas County commissioners and the county manager were in attendance on another matter. Carson Mayor Marv Texeira suggested that they stay for the cable debate, which they did.

The regionwide battle from Washoe to South Lake Tahoe is now joined.

So join my consumer organization, ReSurge.TV, which looks increasingly like the last line of defense against this exercise in corporate greed.

And that means suing Charter for its illegal conduct.

Watch this space and my daily show for updates.

FROM THE NOV. 12, 2008 UPDATE: We need your help to take these guys to court if necessary. If you can afford it, please consider contributing to the ReSurge.TV ratepayer defense fund. You may donate with your debit or credit card via PayPal at this website. You may also send a check or money order payable to ReSurge.TV, P.O. Box 10034, Reno NV 89510.

Thank you and spread the word.

Be well. Raise hell.

Reno-Sparks NAACP opposes Charter channel switch

Hereinbelow is the Oct. 22, 2008, draft of the proposed settlement agreement between the City of Reno and Charter Communications. Here is my Oct. 26, 2008, preliminary analysis.

Click here for the Nov. 12, 2008, update with highlights of the revised city proposal given to me on Nov. 10 by Councilman Davie Aiazzi and Charter's two letters constituting their counter-offer.

All comments are more than welcome. Thanks. Andrew Barbano.



THIS SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (“Agreement”) is made and entered into this ___ day of ________________, 2008 (“Effective Date”), by and between the City of Reno (hereinafter referred to as the “City”) and Falcon Cable Systems Charter II, L.P., a California limited partnership, d/b/a Charter Communications (hereinafter referred to as “Charter”). City and Charter are sometimes collectively referred to as the “Parties,” or singularly as a “Party.”


WHEREAS, the Parties acknowledge that certain legal questions and claims have arisen relating to Charter’s plan to change the channel numbers assigned to the City’s public, educational and governmental (“PEG”) access channels; and,

WHEREAS, to avoid the costs, delay and uncertainty of litigation, the Parties agree to enter into this Settlement Agreement.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the covenants and agreements described below, and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, the parties covenant and agree as follows:

Settlement of Claims. The Parties acknowledge that certain legal questions and claims have arisen relating to Charter’s plan pursuant to NRS 711.770(2) to change the channel numbers assigned to the City’s PEG access channels (the “Dispute”). Neither Party accepts or acknowledges the claims of the other. This Agreement is intended as a full settlement of all claims regarding the Parties’ liability under all currently applicable franchise agreements, federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations relating to the Dispute. Except for the obligations set forth in this Agreement, Charter and City each waives, releases, holds harmless and forever discharges the other Party, its members, officers, directors, agents, employees, successors and assigns, from any and all claims, costs or damages, whether known or unknown, which either Party ever had, or now has, under any applicable franchise agreement, federal, state or local law, rule or regulation regarding the Dispute.

Intention of the Parties. It is the intention of the Parties that this Agreement shall be a full and final accord and satisfactory release of each and every matter specifically or generally referred to herein. The Parties further acknowledge that they may hereafter discover facts in addition to or different from those which they now know or believe to be true with respect to the subject matter referred to this Agreement, but it is their intention to fully, finally and forever settle and release any and all matters, disputes and differences, known or unknown, suspected and unsuspected, which do not exist, may exist or heretofore have existed. In furtherance of this intention the release set forth in Section 1 above shall be and remain in effect as a full and complete general release notwithstanding the discovery or existence of any such additional or different facts.
Coupon. Charter agrees to mail all “analog-only” subscribers in Washoe County (as of the Effective Date of this Agreement) a coupon redeemable for either: (i) use of one (1) digital cable box with courtesy service concluding on December 31, 2009 (the “Courtesy Box”); or, (ii) a discount on a new QAM Tuner television set from RC Willey (the “Discount”). Subscribers shall be allowed to select between the Courtesy Box and the Discount. Subscribers must make their selection, and exercise the Coupon on or before December 1, 2009.

For those subscribers opting for the Courtesy Box, Charter agrees to provide free installation and written notification of expiration of the courtesy period by mail at least thirty (30) days prior to December 31, 2009. For those subscribers opting for the Discount, the cash value of the coupon will be dependent upon the price of the television set purchased, but in no event will the cash value be less than $100.00 off the advertised retail price of the television set purchased.

Discounts for Economically and Socially Disadvantaged Citizens. Charter agrees to provide a discount of forty percent (40%) on broadcast and nonbroadcast services provided at the lowest monthly charge, consisting of local stations, access channels, and any other distant retransmission and/or satellite channels (“Basic Rates”) for citizens with the City of Reno whose income does not exceed such levels as indicated in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Standards for very low income households used in Community Development Block Grant Programs, as amended, and who are either over sixty-five (65) years of age or permanently disabled. The conditions determining handicap qualifications will be those of the State of Nevada, Department of Human Resources Guidelines for Handicapping Conditions, Section 1504.03, as may be amended The obligations set forth in this Section shall remain in full force and effect until such time as mutually modified or terminated by the Parties.

Combination Channel. Charter agrees to establish and maintain one (1) analog channel for joint use by the cities of Reno and Sparks, and Washoe County. The City agrees to work with Sparks and Washoe County to establish a mutually acceptable broadcast schedule and programming. The use of this channel shall be determined by the City of Reno or its designee. On March 2, 2009, Charter may move the Combination Channel from the analog tier to the digital tier.

Channel Mapping. Charter shall, at all times, continue to broadcast four (4) PEG access channels at the dial positions of 213, 214, 216 and 217. Concurrently, Charter agrees digitally re-map said channels so they may be seen on digital televisions on Channels 13, 14, 16 and 17. Channels 13 and 213 shall be for the sole use of the City of Reno. The obligations set forth in this Section shall remain in full force and effect until such time as mutually modified or terminated by the Parties.

Employee Identification. Charter shall provide a picture identification document to all Cable Operator representatives who will be in contact with the public. Members of the public shall be invited to call Charter's main customer service telephone number to verify identification. In addition. Charter shall clearly identify all field personnel, vehicles, and other major equipment that are operating under the authority of Charter.

Settlement Fees Charter shall pay to the City an annual Settlement Fee, payable quarterly, not later than forty-five (45) days after the last day of each quarter throughout the term of this Agreement ("due date") in the amount of five percent (5%) of gross revenues, as determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and as defined in the Ordinance, derived from the operation of the System to provide Cable Services. To the extent that gross revenues for Cable Services are included within a fixed price for which the Subscriber also receives services that are not Cable Services (i.e. the Cable Services and non- Cable Services are "bundled"). Charter shall appropriately allocate a portion of such revenues for inclusion in gross revenues that are subject to the foregoing fee. If the fixed price of the bundled services is lower than the aggregate of the prices of those services if purchased individually, then Charter shall allocate a portion of such revenues for inclusion in gross revenues equal to the aggregate of the prices of the bundled Cable Services if purchased individually.

Annexation Monies. Charter shall ensure that any additional monies due to the City as a result of City Council approved annexations are incorporated into Settlement Fee payments in the first quarter after such annexations take effect. City shall provide Charter with copies of official annexation ordinances.

Settlement Fee Report. In accordance with RMC § 5.90.1030(2), Charter shall submit to the City a quarterly Settlement Fee Report, along with each Settlement Fee payment throughout the term of this Agreement.

Annual Financial Statements In accordance with RMC § 5.90.1030(3), on or before April 30* of each year, Charter agrees to provide to the City a report showing the gross revenues for the previous year associated with the System serving the City within the Service Area. Such report shall be signed by a corporate officer. If the amount of the Settlement Fee paid for the preceding calendar year in accordance with the quarterly Settlement Fee Report is less than the amount indicated on the annual Settlement Fee Report, Charter shall pay to the City the difference at the time Charter delivers the annual Settlement Fee Report If the annual Settlement Fee Report indicates that the amount of the Settlement Fee paid for the preceding calendar year in accordance with the quarterly Settlement Fee Report is more than the amount indicated on the annual Settlement Fee Report, Charter shall apply such overpayment as a credit against its next quarterly payment or, after the end of the term, the City shall promptly refund such amount.

Payment Audits. No acceptance of any Settlement Fee payment by the City shall be construed as an accord and satisfaction that the amount paid is in fact the correct amount or a release of any claim that the City may have for further or additional sums payable under this Agreement, and all amounts paid shall be subject to audit as specified in the Ordinance. Charter shall make relevant books and records available to the City. However, Charter shall only be required to keep such records for the same period as the State of Nevada statute of limitations.

Underpayment Remedy If, as a result of such audit or other review, the City determines that Charter has underpaid its fees in any prior twelve (12) month period by five percent (5%) or more, then, in addition to making full payment of any non- contested amounts, Charter shall reimburse the City for all of the reasonable costs associated with the audit or review, including all reasonable out-of-pocket costs for attorneys and accountants.

Payments not Taxes. The parties agree that the compensation and other payments to be made pursuant to this Section of this Settlement Agreement are not a tax and are not in the nature of a tax and are in addition to any and all taxes of general applicability which Charter shall be required to pay to the City.

Interest on Late Payments If any payment required by this Agreement is not actually received by the City on or before lie applicable date fixed in this Agreement or by the City, Charter shall pay interest at the rate of 12 percent per annum of the amount due, if such percentage does not exceed the legal maximums, from the date due, until paid.

Public, Educational and Governmental (TEGO Access Channels)

Number of PEG Channels

Charter shall provide PEG channels as designated below. The Future Use Channel shall be used for governmental or educational access by the City. Charter shall not be required to provide channel unless the current non-educational channels are being utilized for cablecasting at least one hundred (100) hours per month by unduplicated video programming, and further, that additional contemplated PEG programming cannot effectively utilize channel during the time that is available.

Type Allocated to Channels
Government Access City of Reno 1 channel on the basic tier
Public Access Shared between City of Reno, Sparks, Washoe County and the Washoe County School District 1 channel on the basic tier
Government/Educational Access City of Reno 1 channel on the digital tier
Future Use Channel – Government/Educational City of Reno 1 channel on the digital tier

Public Buildings.

Charter shall, as part of its commitment to the residents of Reno, provide without charge to the City for installation or monthly fees for Basic Service, One (1) standard service drop to all Eligible Public Buildings within the Franchise Service Area which are located 150 feet or closer to Charter's System and shall terminate the drop at a mutually agreed upon site. 13.2.1. For non-standard installations or drops in excess of 150 feet, Charter shall construct the drop at the request of the City or appropriate agency provided that the City or appropriate agency shall pay the incremental costs of such non-standard installation or extension beyond 150 feet, calculated on a time and materials basis and including an allocated portion of the wages and overhead of Charter's employees as well as actual cost of outside labor.

On request from the appropriate official, and if the City or appropriate agency is willing to pay the costs of material and labor for running the specified cable that exceeds the costs that would have been incurred for the standard drop cable, Charter will run cable other than a standard drop cable to a public building which plans to amplify the signal for internal distribution.

Charter shall provide Basic and Expanded Basic Service, or its equivalent, to such buildings free of charge.

For purposes of this Section, the term "standard drop" shall mean placement of cable from the System to the point of termination that does not involve any of the following: (a) a cable distance greater than one hundred fifty (150) feet; (b) placement of cable underground outside of an Underground Area; or, (c) placement of cable underground.

The City may request the installation of a drop to an Eligible Public Building at any time. Charter shall install a standard drop promptly, and no later than one (1) month after such request. A non-standard drop from a completed portion of the System shall be installed within thirty (30) days after the City has approved the work-order for the installation and agreed in writing to reimburse Charter for all costs associated with a non-standard drop installation. If the request is made prior to completion of construction of the relevant portion of the System, Charter shall make good faith efforts to improve upon the aforesaid delivery time periods if it can do so by integrating such work into the schedule along with other similar work in the neighborhood, provided that Charter shall not be obligated to defer connections to Subscribers in order to complete this work.
Insertion Points Charter shall provide without charge insertion points to allow connectivity for PEG programming on its cable systems to the following locations:

490 S. Center Street
Truckee Meadows Community College, Main Campus.
Regional Public Safety Training Center
1 East 1ST Street— New City Council Chambers.
Downtown Events Center
Washoe County School District Administrative Offices located on 9TH Street
Wingfield Park.

Support for Access. Charter’s contribution to the City for Access Support shall be provided pursuant to the following terms and conditions regarding Access Capital Grants

$250,000 grant within thirty (30) days of the Effective Date of this Settlement Agreement
$100,000 upon the first anniversary of the Effective Date of this Settlement Agreement.
$100,000 upon the second anniversary of the Effective Date of this Settlement Agreement
$100,000 upon the seventh anniversary of the Effective Date of this Settlement Agreement
$100,000 upon the twelfth anniversary of the Effective Date of this Settlement Agreement

No Other Filings. Each of the Parties represents and warrants that it has not filed any lawsuits, charges, complaints, petitions, or accusatory pleadings against the other party or any person or business entity released herein with any federal, state or local governmental agency or in any court of law.

Non-Admission of Liability. The Parties acknowledge and agree that this Agreement and the consideration given hereunder have been given and received purely on a compromise of a disputed claim basis because the Parties desire to avoid the expense and burden of protracted litigation, and is not to be construed or used as a admission by either Party of any liability whatsoever, nor shall it be construed or used as an admission of any act or fact whatsoever.

Applicable Law. This Agreement shall be interpreted under and pursuant to the laws of the State of Nevada.

Severability. If any term, provision, covenant or condition of this Agreement is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, void or unenforceable, the remainder of the provisions shall continue in full force and effect unless the rights and obligations of the Parties have been materially altered or abridged by such invalidation, voiding or unenforceability.

Legal Actions. In the event any legal action is commenced to interpret or to enforce the terms of this Agreement or to collect damages as a result of any breach thereof, the Party prevailing in any such action shall be entitled to recover against the Party not prevailing all reasonable attorney's fees and costs incurred in such action.

Binding Effect. This Agreement shall be binding upon and inure to the benefit of the heirs, administrators, executors, successors in interest and assigns of each of the Parties hereto except that there shall be no transfer of any interest by any of the Parties hereto except pursuant to the terms of this Agreement. Any reference in this Agreement to a specifically named Party shall be deemed to apply to any successor, heir, administrator, executor or assign of such Party who has acquired an interest in compliance with the terms of this Agreement, or under law.

Complete Understanding of the Parties. This Agreement consists of the text of the Agreement and the attached Exhibits, if any, and constitutes the entire understanding and agreement of the Parties.

WHEREFORE, the Parties have executed this Agreement in triplicate on or as of the date first above written.

d/b/a Charter Communications
a California limited partnership
Name: ______________________________
Its: ________________________________

a municipal corporation of the State of Nevada
Name: Robert A. Cashell, Sr.
Title: Mayor

Name: Lynnette R. Jones
Title: City Clerk

City Attorney’s Office



Analysis of Reno's Charter deal: Caveat Emptor
Barbwire by Barbano
Daily Sparks Tribune 10-26-2008

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