The Santa Ana City Council late Monday ended a 15-month-old dispute with its cable television company, approving a settlement to give rebates that could affect about 26,000 customers throughout the city.
City council members voted 4 to 1 in a closed-door executive session to approve the settlement, which calls for Comcast Cablevision to credit current subscribers with the $4.45 monthly surcharge that was imposed last March. Councilwoman Patricia A. McGuigan opposed the agreement.
The city’s Cable TV Advisory Board had voted unanimously to reject the settlement, but City Atty. Edward J. Cooper argued that it would be prohibitively expensive--costing up to $500,000--to pursue legal action against Comcast.
Under the settlement, current Comcast subscribers will be reimbursed for the surcharge, which boosted the monthly rate from $13.50 to $17.95. It was imposed for services that the cable company was not providing but claimed that it would soon be required to under its franchise agreement with the city. The agreement does not require Comcast to reduce its rate.
The agreement also calls for Comcast to pay the city more than $1 million. Councilman John Acosta said that no decision had been made on how the money would be spent.
The settlement also releases the company from its obligations to equip a $2-million TV studio, reduces the number of linkages that Comcast has to make with other cable networks, and gives control of the city’s local government channel, formerly KCTY, on Channel 3 in Santa Ana, to Comcast.
“Subscribers will be receiving a refund for all this time we’ve been in litigation. . . . Now we can get back to televising council meetings,” Acosta said.
James Bequette, western region vice president for Comcast, said Monday that he would have to see a copy of the final agreement before he could comment on the matter.
The dispute between the city and Comcast began in December, 1987, when Santa Ana began fining Comcast $1,000 a day for its failure to live up to fulfill contract provisions.