Small Kentucky City Planning To Sell Cable TV-Internet Division
By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policyband
Washington, D.C., Feb. 4, 2024 – A city-owned cable TV and Internet provider in central Kentucky is hanging the for-sale sign.
Bardstown Connect (formerly Bardstown Cable TV & Internet) in Nelson County is looking for a buyer in a process that could take up to a year to complete.
City leaders are reviewing bids submitted Jan. 17 by Comcast Corp., Charter Communications and DUO Broadband.
The Bardstown City Council opted for a sale because of financial challenges in upgrading the communications network. Proceeds from the sale will be used to reduce debt and finance improvements to municipal utility systems, according to a person familiar with the sale.
According to a published report, the buyer of Bardstown Connect will also need to acquire about 2,000 customers of an unnamed Internet wholesaler.
Bardstown, a rural community southeast of Louisville, has about 14,000 people.
According to a 2005 filing with the FCC, Bardstown acquired the cable system from a private owner in 1985 and began offering Internet service in 2000. In 2005, Bardstown Connect had 1,400 video customers.
According to an informed source, Bardstown Connect today has about 11,600 broadband and about 5,000 cable TV subscribers.
The sale of Bardstown Connect isn’t an overwhelmingly popular move.
In a letter to the Nelson County Gazette, Bardstown resident Chandler Young predicted the buyer will raise rates.
“Many Bardstown and Nelson County residents will feel pain in their pocketbooks as a result of this sale. Go online and take a brief look at the rates Comcast, Spectrum, and even Duo Broadband charge their subscribers, and you will see that Bardstown Connect is cheaper in almost every category,” Young wrote.
Bardstown Connect’s Internet service starts at $56.25 a month for 200/10 Mbps service over traditional cable facilities. Fiber Internet service starts at $51.25 a month for up to 100 Mbps service.
A growing number of cities have decided to sell their communications networks.
In Norway, Mich., the city manager in December was authorized to negotiate the sale of the city’s communications network – which includes voice, video and broadband services – to Charter Communications.
Some are deciding to shutoff cable TV but keep Internet service.
Last November, municipally owned Ketchikan Public Utilities (KPU) in Alaska announced its decision to shut down cable TV on Sept. 15, 2024 in a transition to a broadband-only network that will involve relocating about 1,200 cable TV customers to streaming platforms.
Closely held DUO Broadband in Kentucky– one the bidders for Bardstown Connect – has already informed its customers that it is sunsetting cable TV service by the end of 2024 but will continue as a broadband provider.