Q&A: Whose Cable Now?

Q Our building is seriously considering replacing our present cable television with a satellite dish system. Cablevision installed TV cables and equipment in our hi-rise residential condo building several years ago, and has continued to be our cable provider. We need to know who is presently the lawful owner of the TV cables and equipment in our building. Do we have to ask permission from Cablevision to remove, replace or use the existing TV cable for our own purposes?

—Bronx Unit Owner

A According to David L. Berkey, Esq., a principal at Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP in Manhattan, “Cablevision usually installs its coaxial cables, wires and service equipment in buildings pursuant to an agreement that provides that the cables, wires and equipment are the property of Cablevision and can not be used to provide service from other vendors, such as satellite dish television providers. Cablevision usually has a right to enter any building in the geographic area in which it has been granted a franchise from the city of New York to operate. So, even if your building wanted to provide satellite dish television service, it may not be able to prevent Cablevision from providing cable television service to the tenants or prevent the tenants from obtaining cable television service from Cablevision. The satellite dish provider would be a second option to tenants in the building, but separate facilities to provide the signal to each of the apartments would have to be installed, unless Cablevision agreed to the use of its wires and equipment.” n

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