In Spectrum feud with NYS, Rutledge may agree to Niagara Falls studio

Sources say that Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge would be “inclined to agree” with Cuomo administration recommendations that it would be wise for the firm to open a content production studio at the Niagara Falls Conference Center.  The move would build goodwill with New York regulators, and make it more difficult for Governor Andrew Cuomo to be critical of the firm.

That conference center is located on Old Falls Street, in the city’s fledgling tourist district.  Local economic development officials have long promoted the possibility of using the facility to film national programming with a brand like Disney or CBS.

Given the timeliness of New York regulators’ discontent with the pace of Spectrum’s broadband investment in rural upstate communities, observers postulate that this could be the motivation that a national media conglomerate would need to locate that kind of infrastructure here.

Spectrum is focused on building out their content distribution footprint, and less focused on content production.  In this region, the firm has strong footprints in New York, Ohio, Northern New Jersey, parts of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and the Carolinas.

Being able to project the branding of Niagara Falls as a family-friendly destination — the classic American road trip — would undoubtedly drive growth in tourism, especially from the Midwest and the East Coast.

Within the telecommunications industry, there is great pressure to compete in content production, not just in the fiber optics networks that enable the content’s distribution.

Could Spectrum be convinced to launch a family-friendly content channel that speaks to middle America?  Niagara Falls could be a great location for filming daytime television shows with in-studio audiences and could emerge as a hub of original content production with the Great Lakes’ audience in mind.

If Rutledge were to offer to locate a content channel in Niagara Falls, it would be an economic development opportunity that would be hard for Cuomo to pass up — especially in an election year.  He wouldn’t be able to evict the firm from the State following an offer like that.

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