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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 15, 2010

Time Warner will add 8 new channels

Advertiser Staff

Time Warner Entertainment Co. will more than double the number of public access channels it offers as part of the state's renewal of the company's non-exclusive cable franchise on O'ahu.

The order allows Time Warner, which operates in Hawai'i as Oceanic Time Warner Cable, to continue using public rights of way to provide cable service to consumers for 20 years.

In exchange, Time Warner will increase the number of cable channels available for local uses in the state to 14 from six. That includes maintaining the six public, educational and governmental channels currently used by 'Ōlelo Community Media.

The eight new local use channels include: a statewide digital channel for 'Ōlelo to be programmed on a first-come, first-serve basis; a statewide digital channel with a direct connection from Honolulu Hale; a statewide digital channel with a direct connection from the state Capitol; a statewide digital channel for the University of Hawai'i and the Department of Education; a digital video-on-demand channel servicing O'ahu for UH and the DOE; a statewide digital channel for Hawai'i county government; a statewide digital channel for Maui county government; and a statewide digital channel for Kaua'i county government.

The order also requires Time Warner to convert most of its analog programming to digital, according to a news release from the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

The order provides continued funding for 'Ōlelo and the Hawai'i Public Television Foundation. In addition, free high-speed broadband service will be provided to all O'ahu public schools, including charter schools, statewide to facilitate online student testing.

Time Warner also will provide additional free interconnections to the state's INET for government or educational use, including 20 new interconnections during the first five years and additional interconnections thereafter, according to the release.

As part of the conversion from analog to digital, Time Warner will provide, at no charge, a digital set-top box or similar device to subscribers who do not have digital access, but who wish to view basic service tier programming that has been converted to digital.

As part of the 20-year renewal term, Time Warner is required to submit technology upgrade plans every five years, which must be approved by DCCA, and which may result in amendment to the franchise conditions.

"These commitments by TWE warrant the issuance of a franchise renewal term of 20 years, subject to ongoing supervision and review by the state," DCCA Director Larry Reifurth said in the news release.

"In today's rapidly evolving technological world, a cable franchise order needs to address today's reality and tomorrow's promise, without limiting either. I think that we have accomplished that with this order."