The village of Williamsburg, Iowa, may impose financial
penalties against Triax Telecommunications Co. L.L.C.'s Triax Cablevision for failing
to meet all of the terms associated with an upgrade of its local system.
Triax was also at odds with local officials last week over
their contention that it did not abide by a provision in its franchise requiring the MSO
to consult with the city on new programming offered over its rebuilt network.
Located between Des Moines and Davenport, Iowa,
Williamsburg is a village of some 2,500 residents where Triax offers service to about 650
Meanwhile, officials for the Denver-based operator said the
upgrade was completed in advance of a March 21 deadline, and seven new channels had been
added to the lineup, as required by its franchise. The additions were Home & Garden
Television, Animal Planet, C-SPAN, Cable News Network, CNN Headline News, Cartoon Network
and Comedy Central.
Al Amantea, chairman of the Williamsburg Cable Commission,
conceded that the upgrade was finished prior to the deadline, but he said Triax failed to
complete a drop audit that was called for under its franchise.
"To me, 'concurrent with the completed
rebuild' means at the same time," Amantea said. "This means that the
rebuild is not complete until the audit is done."
Under its agreement with Triax, the city can impose a
$100-per-day fine until the audit is complete, Amantea said. More important, it could find
the company in default of its franchise -- something that city officials did once before,
when the operator failed to come up with a security bond -- he added.
Amantea said Triax's "quality-control"
problems have already cost the MSO some 200 customers in Williamsburg in the past two
"There are a lot of people fed up around here,"
he said. "I've seen a lot of satellite dishes spring up around town."
Reportedly, a subcontractor hired to do the drop audit left
Williamsburg without completing the job. However, Triax officials dismissed estimates that
it will take three weeks to complete the work.
"It didn't take us three weeks to do the
upgrade," Triax spokesman Tom Bordwell said.
On the programming issue, Bordwell said Triax conducted a
survey of local residents to determine which new channels they wanted added to the system.
The city signed off on the survey, he added.
However, Amantea argued that the survey was at least a
year-and-a-half old, and it did not adequately reflect current viewer attitudes.
"Ultimately, it was Triax's decision," he
said. "But we did want to have some input [on new programming]."
Triax officials told the City Council last week that
networks like Fox Sports Chicago were too expensive to be included in the local channel
Amantea countered by arguing that Triax delivers the Fox
offering to Montezuma and Stanwood, Iowa -- two nearby communities where it faces
"But they don't have any competition here,"
The Williamsburg City Council is expected to address the
issues against Triax at its April 12 meeting.
Amantea admitted that the problem could go away if the drop
audit is completed before the council meets.
"They certainly have enough time to get it done,"
he said. "But what happens is also going to depend on what the subscribers are