Sheridan’s lone cable television provider filed for bankruptcy in early May and suspended service to its customers in July.
Sheridan Mayor Joe Wise said that the cessation of service by Zoom Media LLC, of Tyler, Texas, came without any warning from the company.
“We had a small thunderstorm come through a while back and the television in the courthouse went out and it never came back,” Wise said. “They never told us that they were going to stop service.”
Wise said he has heard from a few former Zoom Media customers who are upset with the way the company ceased its operations, but then explained that most people that he knows of who don’t use a standard television antenna have been using satellite television services.
Aaron Sadler, spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, said that Zoom customers upset with the end of their cable service most likely have no legal recourse.
“Cable companies are not regulated in the same manner as utilities,” Sadler said. “Typically cable customers are bound by their contracts with their providers which most often allow for termination of services in circumstances such as this.”
“For 25 years cable TV was a flash in the skillet so to speak,” Wise said. “I think that cable TV in the smaller areas has been losing customers for a while now. They have been switching to satellite TV. We lost our Movie Gallery a while back but with the new technology like Red Box and Netflix people have other options available to them.”
“We may not be getting cable television around here anymore,” Wise said.
Wise said the biggest issue from his standpoint is the presence of television cable around town, some of which is causing public safety issues.
“When it gets hot some of the utility lines start to sag and we sometimes have problems with garbage trucks unable to get down some streets because of this,” Wise said.”My main concern is getting old cable removed from the poles around town. I have been in touch with Windstream, Entergy and C & L Electric. All of these utility companies have an interest in getting that cable removed.”
Wise said that many utilities piggyback their cables and wires together along the same transmission lines and the possibility of traffic accidents being caused by the old television cable opens up potential legal liability issues for the companies that share the lines.
Wise said he has been told that the television cable that is in place around Sheridan is obsolete and would not be usable by any new cable television provider that might come to town in the future.
“I hope that the bankruptcy court that is handling Zoom Media brings in some equipment to take down the television cable,” Wise said. “Zoom Media has had the cable franchise for less than two years. It is my understanding that they have changed their name three or four times in the past six to eight years.”
Wise said the city and Grant County received a small franchise tax fee from the cable company but that it had become insignificant in recent years.
“Cable TV use has been declining somewhat for the last 10 years and this means that Zoom Media was gradually losing its customer base,” Wise said. “As little as the franchise fee was, it’s not going to affect our budget.”