Print this ArticlePrint this Article Email this ArticleEmail this Article
Text Size: A | A | A

City hands over TV

 Posted: 2:00 AM October 20, 2006

The Ashland Fiber Network's cable television service is officially in the hands of a private company.

At a Thursday afternoon press conference, City of Ashland Information Technology Director Joe Franell handed a gold-colored remote control to Gary Nelson, owner and president of Ashland Home Net, to signify the change.

Nelson's company will run the television service, which has been a money-losing venture for the city. It will now be called Ashland TV.

AFN will continue to wholesale its profitable high-speed Internet service to retailers that include Ashland Home Net, Project A and Open Door Networks.

Nelson said Ashland Home Net will offer low-cost television alternatives and listen to customers about what channels they want.

"We're really looking forward to working with the people of Ashland," he said.

Ashland Home Net will offer a Community television package that includes local and public channels for $9.99 per month. The Basic package, for $17.99 per month, has those channels plus channels such as The Learning Channel, Nickelodeon, CNN, TBS, Hallmark, The Travel Channel, MTV and Free Speech TV.

&byline;The Expanded Basic package costs $38.99 per month and includes those channels and adds ESPN, Noggin', Ovation,

&byline2;Ashland Daily Tidings

The Ashland Fiber Network's cable television service is officially in the hands of a private company.

At a Thursday afternoon press conference, City of Ashland Information Technology Director Joe Franell handed a gold-colored remote control to Gary Nelson, owner and president of Ashland Home Net, to signify the change.

Nelson's company will run the television service, which has been a money-losing venture for the city. It will now be called Ashland TV.

AFN will continue to wholesale its profitable high-speed Internet service to retailers that include Ashland Home Net, Project A and Open Door Networks.

Nelson said Ashland Home Net will offer low-cost television alternatives and listen to customers about what channels they want.

"We're really looking forward to working with the people of Ashland," he said.

Ashland Home Net will offer a Community television package that includes local and public channels for $9.99 per month. The Basic package, for $17.99 per month, has those channels plus channels such as The Learning Channel, Nickelodeon, CNN, TBS, Hallmark, The Travel Channel, MTV and Free Speech TV.

The Expanded Basic package costs $38.99 per month and includes those channels and adds ESPN, Noggin', Ovation, The History Channel, Sundance, Comedy Central, Classic Arts Showcase, Independent Film Channel, Worship TV and others.

Ashland Home Net is doing away with digital service and offering analog-only service.

That means all television customers will have to disconnect the cable from their digital box and connect it to their television set by Oct. 31. The television will then operate using the remote control that came with the television.

Illustrated instructions for disconnecting and reconnecting the cable are posted at .

Although the process should be relatively simple for most households, customers can call Ashland Home Net at 488-9207 for help.

Digital boxes should be returned to Ashland City Hall by Oct. 31. People who cannot bring their digital boxes in can call the city at 552-2222 to arrange a pick-up.

Ashland Home Net will no longer offer television packages beyond Expanded Basic.

But the company has teamed with Eagle Point-based Satelliteland. The satellite company can provide both digital service and more extensive television packages.

Packages range from $29.99 (without local channels) to $84.99 for a package that includes 31 movie channels.

A local channel package can be added for $5, although it does not include Rogue Valley Community Television channels.

Ashland Home Net will not offer a discounted package for people who buy both Internet and cable television service, although it does offer the convenience of combined billing, Nelson said.

He said his company does not want to take customers from the other AFN Internet retailers in town.

Alan Oppenheimer, owner of AFN Internet retailer Open Door Networks, said each Internet service provider has its own niche, whether because they serve Apple users, businesses or another market segment.

Oppenheimer, Project A Owner Jim Teece and other high-tech industry representatives were at the press conference to lend support to Ashland Home Net's television venture.

Nelson said all the AFN Internet retailers suffer if a former AFN television customer decides to sign up for a competitor's television package and also buys Internet service from the competitor.

Mike O'Herron, Southern Oregon general manager for Charter Communications, said by telephone that he did not want to comment on the transfer of AFN's television service to Ashland Home Net.

Charter officials previously announced their Basic cable package will rise from $13.07 a month to $19.99 a month in Ashland as of Monday.

The price for Expanded Basic will also increase from $32.40 per month in Ashland to $47.99 per month.

However, current Expanded Basic customers can continue at that level of service for 12 months for $36.99.

Charter and AFN had offered below-market cable television prices in Ashland for several years.

Pete Belcastro, co-director of Rogue Valley Community Television, said Ashland residents will benefit from the city turning over AFN's television service to Ashland Home Net &

rather than simply shutting down the service &

because it preserves competition.

"Ashland citizens will actually save money as a result of this," he said.

Ashland Home Net is leasing AFN's television facilities for $1,500 per month, plus 7 percent of gross revenue, minus franchise fees that go to the city and other fees that help support Rogue Valley Community Television. Much of the television equipment is located at a city-owned building on North Mountain Avenue that also houses AFN Internet equipment.

Ashland Home Net has sole responsibility for paying programming fees, the money paid to the providers of television channels. Those fees make up a major cost for any television service provider.

Staff writer can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.


COUPON OF THE WEEK