ST. CLOUD - After months of negotiations, the St. Cloud City Council has approved a 10-year Franchise Agreement with Charter Communications.

The agreement does not prevent another cable company from coming in to town. Brian Grogan has been negotiating the contract on behalf of the city. He says, if a competitor comes in to the city, Charter retains the right for a level playing field.

Perhaps to the local telephone company that would like to come in and get a franchise agreement as a competing cable provider, under this provision if the city were to grant that competitor a significantly more favorable franchise, Charter would have the right to operate under that more favorable franchise.

The new agreement also requires Charter to remove any duplicate facilities from aerial wires, and about 3,000 pedestals on public rights-of-way. Charter is also required to provide a toll free number for customers to call, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll be talking to someone here in the St. Cloud area, the call could still be routed to a call center.

Councilmen George Hontos and Jeff Johnson voted no. By approving the contract, the city waived the pending violation by Charter for moving the PEG channels last summer, without the city's prior approval. Hontos says he's not happy with that.

But I believe in accountability and I don't believe that we're holding Charter accountable for a violation of a contract. And, to some of my other concerns I got some answers, they were kind of okay answers, but I'm not sure I'm fully satisfied.

The new agreement also means the PEG channels will be moving again, so that they are all next to each other. The new numbers will be 178, 179, 180, and 181. Charter also has the right to move them in the future.

The contract requires Charter to pay the city a PEG fee of 1.5 percent in gross revenues, as well as a five percent franchise fee.