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Charters struggles shouldn't affect cable customers
Company may seek bankruptcy, but service to continue
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The financial woes of Charter Communications should not affect local cable customers in Hall County, a cable TV expert said.

Charter announced last week that it was seeking help in restructuring $21 billion in debt, leading many on Wall Street to speculate the St. Louis-based company could be headed for bankruptcy.

Lou Comer, director of local government services for the Georgia Municipal Association, said a Chapter 11 filing would be only a reorganization of the company.

The city of Gainesville contracts with GMA to negotiate cable and telecommunications management services.

In September, Charter took advantage of a new state law and obtained a state franchise for cable services. The 10-year agreement sets the same terms for payment to local governments where Charter serves. Previously, Charter had to negotiate an individual agreement with county and municipal governments.

Should the company seek bankruptcy protection, it will not be the first time a Hall County cable provider has operated in bankruptcy. Adelphia Communications, which was based in Pennsylvania, served portions of Hall County before the Georgia operations were sold to cable giant Comcast. Adelphia operated under Chapter 11 until the company’s remaining assets were split between new owners Comcast and TimeWarner.

Right now, the only other television service option for Charter customers is satellite.

In 2007, AT&T announced that it would invest more than $500 million in Georgia in fiber network upgrades, further broadband deployment and Internet-based technologies to bring new services to Georgia consumers, including television delivered over Internet protocol.

However, the company has not announced a rollout date for the product in Hall County.

Both Charter and AT&T have heavily promoted "bundling" services such as home telephone, Internet and TV services. AT&T has joined with DISH network for TV service in areas not served by its own television service, known as U-Verse.