Los Angeles city officials and Century Cable Television executives traded angry accusations Tuesday over the company’s decision to impose a double-digit rate increase just six months after cable operators helped defeat a proposed 10% municipal utility tax on acable services.
At a City Hall news conference that was broadcast live on the city’s cable channel, Mayor Tom Bradley and Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky denounced the 13.9% rate increase as “outrageous.” They called on cable subscribers to send copies of their cable bills to Congressional leaders, who are considering legislation that would increase regulatory authority over the industry.
“The citizens of Los Angeles should no longer be held hostage by an industry which operates virtually unchecked by competition or by government,” said Bradley, who ordered public hearings on the escalating cost of cable services.
Yaroslavsky, who had pushed for the failed utility tax, said he will urge subscribers to withhold payment to Century Cable if the $2.95 monthly rate hike takes effect. “What Century Cable may be looking at is a rate strike by their customers,” he said.
Bill Rosendahl, Century Cable vice president, defended the rate increase as necessary to pay for $50 million in improvements to the system, which serves about 113,000 subscribers on the Westside and in Sherman Oaks and Eagle Rock.
“It is great for politicians to have somebody to beat on, rather than dealing with the social issues that we elect them as our servants to deal with,” said Rosendahl at a news conference at the company’s Santa Monica studios. “I think there’s politics going on here.”