Mount Pleasant — Town Council's Finance Committee approved on Tuesday a new agreement with Comcast that will yield an extra $600,000 over the next dozen years for town coffers.
The renegotiated franchise fee agreement relates to revenue from the Home Shopping Network, local advertising and Federal Communications Commission user fees, said Charlie Potts, director of administrative services for the town.
"There was an honest difference of opinion about what gross revenue meant," Potts said.
Comcast will pay $50,000 more each year for the next 12 years on top of the $600,000 a year it already pays the town in franchise fees, Potts said.
"It will make a difference," he said. "It's something that's worth doing. As a percentage, it's not great, but it's still a lot of money." The funds will be used for police and fire protection and other public services, he said.
The town paid $3,000 for a routine audit of its agreement with Comcast, resulting in new negotiations with the cable TV company for the town's share of what it was due for allowing Comcast to compete for business from its 60,000 residents.
Although Comcast told the town it disagreed with its interpretation of the franchise agreement, it offered to pay the extra $50,000 each year but not retroactively for the past two years, Potts said.
Town Administrator Mac Burdette told committee members that the town could spend $20,000 fighting Comcast to collect the extra $100,000 on franchise fees, but it wouldn't be worth it. The town has a $54 million budget.
Bill Watson, Comcast's general manager in Charleston, said the amended franchise agreement is in the best interest of the town and Comcast. "We are very happy to resolve this matter with the city," Watson said.
He said Comcast and the town agreed to amend the definition of gross revenue in the franchise agreement, which in turn increases franchise fees the town will collect. "We weren't going to make that change and apply it retroactively," he said.
Comcast raised its rates in March, including a $2.71 monthly increase for one of its most popular subscriber packages. The company reported an 18 percent increase in revenue last year to $25 billion and $2.53 billion in net income, almost triple its 2005 profit. Comcast said it will spend $5.6 billion on its cable network this year and it expects to collect at least $18.6 billion from TV packages.