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Picayune renews franchise agreement with Charter Communications

Rustin Legendre with Charter addressing the council

The Picayune City Council met last night (Monday) and agreed to a renewal of the franchise agreement with Charter Communications for a term of 10 years with the franchise fee remaining the same as before, which is 5% percent of the gross total revenue of approximately 1800 to 2000 customers in Picayune.

City Clerk Amber Hinton told the council that in the new agreement, Charter will provide a Public Educational and Government (PEG) Access channel to be in place for the future should the city decide have a local government channel. Additionally, Charter will provide one complimentary basic cable TV drop for each of the three fire department locations, the police station, and city hall. Councilman Wayne Gouguet had some questions about fiber availability at the Picayune Industrial Park and Hinton referred those questions to Rustin Legendre, the Senior Manager for Government Relations of Louisiana.

Legendre said, “Our fiber sales representative, Gene (Dudek) has the list of the business contacts for the Industrial Park and he is contacting each business individually in the Picayune Industrial Park to make each aware of the solutions available to make that park fiber rich.”

Legendre told the council that the Industrial Park is ready for fiber and that all Spectrum (Charter) needs is for two to three customers to agree to a 3 year contract at Spectrum’s competitive pricing rates. Legendre said Charter was able to bring down the construction costs a lot by not having to cross the train tracks and each customer in the Industrial Park will have fiber available to them at no additional construction costs.

Legendre also told the council that “since the last franchise renewal in 2012, Charter has undergone an all digital transformation and Picayune has been included in that and home internet speeds have tripled and you now have 200 HD channels.”

Council member Tammy Valente told Legendre that the city is facing growing pains and Picayune has quite a few neighborhoods that don’t have access to the internet.

Legrendre responded, “In 2018, we will have a more aggressive approach toward broadband for rural areas. Our CEO, Mr. Rutledge, met with the President a few months ago, and he promised that we are going to be putting $25 billion dollars into infrastructure across the country bringing internet to rural areas.”

Valente asked about the absence of a Charter store front for customers to pay their bills and Legendre explained that there was not enough “foot traffic” to keep the Picayune store open. He noted that all of the employees were given an employment opportunity in another store. Legendre told Valente that most transactions can be done via the Spectrum website or telephone. The number locally is 888-438-2427.

At the end of the meeting, Reverend Brian Dees of East Jerusalem Baptist Church, addressed the council again asking them to take into consideration the improvements at 8th Street Cemetery and the parks that had been asked about in the past few months by council members Larry Breland and Lynn Bogan Bumpers. Mayor Ed Pinero told Dees that the council will not look at any budget amendments until approximately six months from now.

Also during the meeting, the council reappointed Ms. Shirley Stough to the Library Board and Mr. Lex Doby to the Picayune Housing Authority.

The council’s next meeting in January 2, 2018.


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