Cable office in transition stage

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 26, 2011

NATCHEZ — The local Cable One office is undergoing a transition period, but the new general manager, John Hilbert, said service for Natchez residents will not suffer, but get better.

Hilbert said the cable company is looking for new office space in Natchez since the current rent for the Martin Luther King Jr. Road facility recently increased 65 percent, and that there are no plans for the Natchez office to close.

Since he has come on board as the new branch manager in early February, Hilbert said two local associates transferred to the McComb office and three associates remain at the Natchez office building, which is currently being rented on a monthly basis.

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Hilbert, who is in Natchez three days a week, said the Natchez, McComb and Brookhaven offices have always shared a server, and some of the Natchez office employees now work out of the McComb call center, which will allow local calls to be answered by a regional representative 90 percent of the time.

“Two (Natchez) associates now report to the call center in McComb office, and the main reason why that is done is that it is more efficient to consolidate those resources,” Hilbert said.

Three service associates and a technician are still based at the Natchez office on Martin Luther King Jr. Road.

The cable technicians who service residences still report to Natchez Cable One warehouse on Liberty Road, Hilbert said. He said Cable One is also looking to relocate its warehouse in the Natchez area.

Wesley Bruce, owner of Bruce Video Productions. expressed concern to the Adams County Board of Supervisors and the aldermen at recent meetings of both boards about Cable One’s transition.

Bruce said Cable One fired him from operating the public access station from the Cable One site.

“I had a meeting with new manager, and he told us we had until April 30 to move out,” Bruce said.

Bruce said he will continue to tape events and meetings, but that his production company started when Cable One hired him to collect DVDs from area churches and other public access events as well as his own recordings, and use his equipment to hook up the recordings to the Cable One’s facilities and play them at the appropriate times.

Hilbert said he fired Bruce because he no longer wanted to contract out production of the public access station.

“That (agreement) was kind of odd, normally we wouldn’t have an outside source access to our facilities,” Hilbert said.

Hilbert said Cable one was paying Bruce Video Productions to play the tapes, but since the last management team recently purchased $10,000 of equipment, Cable One employees can operate Channel 9 on their own.

“We can basically do the same thing and cut expense of paying outside contractor to do that work,” Hilbert said.

Bruce will still be able to tape the meetings and events he records, but he will no longer be operating the public access station.

Bruce told aldermen he did not sign a contract with the former management of Cable One, but that he operated Channel 9 at the Cable One facility for years under a mutual understanding.

Bruce said since Cable One has taken over production of the public access, there have been problems.

“It’s a technical malfunction every day,” Bruce said.

Supervisors noted at a March 21 meeting that they had noticed the sound and images being out of sync on the public access.

Cable One representatives apparently told representatives of Bruce Video that the new system would operate with a two-week delay on the public access channel from the time of the event.

Bruce said he has been able to play meetings, church recordings and other events the same evening they occur.

Hilbert said the public access programs need a two-week delay .

“It takes from 24 to 48 hours to review, download and make sure (a program) is compliant,” Hilbert said. “Worse case scenario the turnaround time for us would be 48 hours,” he said.

The aldermen requested at its March 22 meeting Hilbert appear at its April 12 meeting to discuss the changes at Cable One and how it might affect the public access station.

Hilbert said he plans to show the April 12 meeting shown live on Channel 9.