HOULTON, Maine — While representatives from Polaris Cable Services were in town to answer questions put to them by town councilors about their practice of blacking out programming duplicated on locally received television channels, they also were there to present the town with a check for more than $39,000.
During a more than hourlong meeting, Cathy Donovan, the general manager of WAGM TV, presented town officials with the cable company’s 2009 Franchise Report. Polaris Cable Services and WAGM TV are subsidiaries of NEPSK Inc.
The information session also included the delivery of a $39,257 check, representing one year’s worth of revenue from the cable franchise fee. The figure is up $2,164 over 2008.
Councilors set the fee that individual subscribers pay the town for receiving service. The monthly fee is 5 percent of the company’s revenue from subscribers, the maximum allowed under the contract.
Donovan told councilors the cable company offered a number of new services in 2009, including the launch of Polaris Phone residential services last June. The digital phone service includes unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada. Polaris also launched Polaris Triple Play packages, which bundles digital cable, digital phones and high-speed Internet. The company also upgraded its online billing services.
Additional new services are planned for 2010, according to Donovan, including installing new technology and equipment to expand cable television channels and services. The company also plans to offer business class phone services, along with other services.
“During this past year, Polaris experienced no major systemwide outages of one hour or more,” Donovan said Monday evening. “We continue to upgrade our services that we offer to communities.”
Polaris also provides free cable video services to a number of sites in Houlton, including the town’s three schools, the fire department, police department and the town office. That service will remain ongoing.