On the East End, the countdown to the end of free analog cable service from Cablevision and the free temporary use of a cable box for those basic service customers will start in February, according to Joan Gilroy, Cablevision’s director of government affairs.
Gilroy told the East Hampton Town board at its Thursday night meeting that the planned upgrading of East Hampton to all-digital service — which was to have been completed by year’s end — had been held up by bad weather, and is not expected to be finished until mid-February.
That means a two-year grace period of free cable boxes for customers getting only basic cable service has not yet started.
Gilroy spoke at a public hearing about a proposed 10-year extension of the Cablevision franchise, and she said the company has provided far more services than called for in its old contract.
Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said after the meeting the board would likely vote to approve the new franchise agreement at Tuesday’s work session.
Cablevision has completed its upgrading work in Riverhead and Southampton, and expects to finish digital conversion in Southold and Shelter Island before the last customers are hooked up in East Hampton. But, Gilroy said, the company will not start the time limit on the free use of cable boxes for basic service customers for those other East End customers until the East Hampton work is finished.
Most people in East Hampton who have only basic service and do not upgrade will get the use of two free cable boxes for two years, but some — such as Medicaid recipients — will get two free boxes for five years, Gilroy said. The company, which owns Newsday, provides free cable service to town halls, schools and other public facilities on the East End.