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New Orleans, Cox Agree On Franchise Renewal

Cox Communications has received New Orleans City Council support, at the committee level, to extend its cable franchise until 2031 in exchange for increasing its financial support for public, educational and government channels, the New Orleans Advocate reported. The non-exclusive franchise was set to expire in 2021 and Cox was not obligated to negotiate a renewal yet, the newspaper reported. But Cox did negotiate, and a new agreement was approved on Feb. 12 by the city council's utility, cable, telecommunications and technology committee and now awaits approval by the full city council.

Steve Sawyer, Cox's public and government affairs director in New Orleans, said the company was happy with the outcome, tacking another 10 years onto the franchise in exchange for the additional PEG support. He said the full council is slated to vote on the new agreement on Feb. 26.

Support for PEG programming, produced a nonprofit organization called New Orleans Access Television, was scheduled to drop to $150,000 annually from $1 million per year under terms of the franchise pact signed in 2011. Under the new agreement, Cox would pay $500,000 for PEG support in 2015, dropping to $435,000-$450,000 per year after that, or one half of 1% of Cox's gross annual revenue in the city, the Advocate reported.

The agreement calls for the city to solicit proposals for other entities to possibly come in and manage PEG programming, as the city has tried to make the operation more self-sustaining, the Advocate said. NOA-TV oversees four PEG channels.