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BURBANK : City Asks to Regulate the Cost of Cable TV

Burbank has asked the federal government for permission to regulate prices for cable television, a move that could give the city some control over ever-increasing fees.

“I don’t think anybody should get any perception that their cable bills will be cut in half,” Burbank Assistant City Manager Steve Helvey said, explaining that new federal regulations give cities a set of criteria that a local cable operator must meet to justify future price increases.

If, as expected, the application is approved, Burbank will be allowed to begin regulating cable in the city next month. The city will have another four months to draw up a per-channel allowable charge, city officials said.

But because that charge will have to be based on federal guidelines, and because Burbank’s local cable operator, Sammons Communications, already restructured its rates in June in anticipation of the new regulations, the move is not expected to have an immediate impact, said Carl Pilnick, the city’s cable consultant.

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“You will be able to control future increases,” Pilnick told the City Council in an hourlong workshop session on the issue before Tuesday’s council meeting.

Pilnick said the new federal guidelines allow cable operators to increase their charges only on the basis of a cost of living adjustment or on increased operating costs.


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