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State orders Verizon to pay Glen Cove higher franchise fee

The state Public Service Commission has approved a cable franchise agreement allowing Verizon to provide service in Glen Cove as long as it pays the city more money than originally agreed.

On Wednesday, Verizon New York Inc. accepted the regulatory agency's decision, which increased the amount the company has to pay to be on par with a franchise agreement between the city and Cablevision. The decision increases the amount Verizon must pay the city by $57,000 to $99,000. The PSC also said it expects Glen Cove to negotiate a $57,000 overall reduction in Cablevision's obligations to the city.

"We're happy to be able to provide some choice to residents in Glen Cove," Verizon spokesman John Bonomo said.

"We had made an investment in the city some time ago, and we're happy we can make a return on that."

Cablevision, which owns Newsday, issued a statement Thursday agreeing with the PSC's decision. Cablevision officials said the ruling "has confirmed the importance of maintaining a level playing field, allowing all providers to bring the benefits of competition to consumers in a fair and equitable way."

The city council approved the franchise agreement in March in a 5-2 vote, subject to approval by the PSC. At the time, Cablevision officials said the agreement was unfair because Verizon would make annual payments to the city totaling $21,000 from 2014 through 2025, while Cablevision's franchise agreement required it to make payments totaling $100,000 from 2010 through 2024. Cablevision also provides free services to the city's schools and municipal government valued at $68,650 during that time period.

The agreement the city signed in March with Verizon included an additional one-time fee of $21,000. That fee and the aggregate annual payments brought Verizon's fees up to $42,000 before the PSC added the $57,000.

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