Premier Communications

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SHELDON—With all the recent franchise fee talk happening in Sheldon, Premier Communications CEO Doug Boone can understand why there has been some confusion.

The Sioux Center-based telecom sent out letters to customers notifying them that rates for cable television were going up as a direct result of increased programming fees from the networks.

However, some people thought Premier was increasing its franchise fee in Sheldon.

“Totally unrelated to the franchise fee,” Boone said. “It is totally related to the price of content from ESPN, from FOX, TNT, from Disney and all of those things.”

The city of Sheldon and HTC Communications, which was acquired by Premier in 2018, inked a new 10-year franchise agreement in 2017.

As part of that agreement, the city is granted 5 percent of Premier’s annual gross revenues derived from the operation of the system to provide multichannel video programming services to subscribers within the corporate boundaries of the Sheldon.

Before the 10-year extension was signed, the previous franchise agreement between the city and the cable provider was in place for 20 years and the sides agreed to a one-year extension while a long-term deal was worked out.

Franchise fees have been a hot-button topic in Sheldon for most of 2019.

The city and MidAmerican Energy Co. have discussed implementing a franchise agreement between the entities as well as imposing a 5 percent franchise fee on electric and natural gas services for residential customers.

The Sheldon City Council has held two public hearings/readings on the measure and it is expected to be placed on the November ballot.

Boone, who has been following the topic, can understand why someone would mix up the franchise issues.

“I bet that’s where the confusion comes from,” he said. “They received a letter talking about a rate increase; it doesn’t have anything to do with franchise fees, but I could see where somebody was reading the paper and hearing what the conversations are there . . . I get it.”