Beverly Hills Approves New Cable TV Franchise

Times Staff Writer

The Beverly Hills City Council has approved a franchise agreement with Century Southwest Cable Television Inc. that requires the company to spend $4.5 million to improve the aging system.

Vice Mayor Donna Ellman described the agreement, approved Tuesday by a 3-2 vote, as the "best of all worlds."

"It is an outstanding document that if we ever have to go to court will hold us in very good position," she said.

Ellman, Mayor Benjamin H. Stansbury Jr. and Councilman Maxwell Salter voted in favor of the agreement. Council members Robert K. Tanenbaum and Charlotte Spadaro opposed it.

Under the terms of the contract, Century Southwest Cable was granted a 10-year franchise with the right to renew the agreement for up to five years. In exchange, the company agreed to improve the system and presented the city with a letter of credit to guarantee that the $4.5 million in improvements would be completed by 1990.

Improvements would include increasing the number of channels to 75 and adding 77 miles of cable, including 40 miles underground.

The city also will receive $1 million from Westinghouse Broadcasting and Cable Co., the city's former franchise holder, for public access programming.

If for any reason, the cable company fails to complete the work, the city can cash its letter of credit to finance the work itself.

The council's action was taken after months of delays. A 13-member citizens committee studied the contract for more than a year and voted to recommend approval of the agreement.

Several members of the citizens group opposed the contract because they said that the company had provided inadequate financial information.

Opponents wanted the city to take control of the cable system.

Ellen Tern Harris, a member of the committee who opposed the agreement, said the city could have contracted with the telephone company to upgrade the system and hired a cable company to manage it.

She said that if the city took control of the system, it would have the authority to set rules and rates under which the company would operate.

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