WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Questions about the handling of Putnam's government access channel have been raised after a lengthy debate about what Suddenlink Communications is required to provide.
Commissioners heard from a Suddenlink representative and Michael Karr, who has overseen the channel for about a year. The two have been disputing whether the company should be required to provide free Internet access to maintain the channel.
The channel acts as a community bulletin board for area events and meetings and also provides weather updates. Federal law requires cable providers like Suddenlink to provide government access channels to citizens willing to maintain them.
Karr, a self-employed voiceover artist with several years experience in broadcasting, entered an agreement with the county last year to maintain the channel at no charge.
He said Tuesday he believed Suddenlink should have been providing him free Internet access at his home to update the channel remotely.
Michael Keleman with Suddenlink said that's not the case.
"[Karr] is stating we provide free network service to other counties and that's not true," Keleman said.
If the county wants to make Suddenlink pay for the access, they can in December when their contract is renewed, Keleman said. However, the cost would be passed on to customers in the county.
Commissioner Steve Andes said if the contract didn't reflect Suddenlink is required to provide Internet access, the county isn't going to ask them to.
"We'd like to have the channel. I never figured we'd have this much trouble trying to provide information for the citizens of Putnam County," Andes said. "We certainly don't want to pass off any additional costs to citizens."