Newport Beach : City Council Votes to Deregulate Cable Rates

Taking a cue from the federal government, which last year decided to strip municipalities of authority to set cable television rates, the City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the city code that will deregulate cable rates in Newport Beach.

The action will take effect Sept. 26.

The council took the action after Group W Cable Inc., one of Newport Beach's two cable franchisees, requested permission for a rate increase. However, because the Federal Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 precludes cities' rights to set cable rates after 1986, the council declined to approve a rate hike, voting instead to deregulate cable rates altogether.

"The regulation now is the customers' willingness to pay the price," Newport Beach City Manager Bob Wynn said. "It's now between them (the cable television companies) and the customers."

The council action came on the heels of a federal court ruling last week that upheld Group W's right to impose a rate hike on Fullerton's 16,500 subscribers. U.S. District Judge Irving Hill ruled that Fullerton's ordinance requiring City Council approval of rate increases is invalid because it conflicts with state law.

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