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THOUSAND OAKS : Cable TV Price Cut, Refund Considered

Thousand Oaks cable subscribers could receive hefty refunds if the City Council on Tuesday orders the two local cable providers to roll back their service charges--and apply the lower rates retroactively.

In a survey of Ventura County Cablevision and Falcon Cable prices, a city consultant found that both companies charge reasonable monthly fees for their basic package of channels. But the consultant determined that both Ventura County Cablevision and Falcon have significantly inflated their hourly service charges.

After a public hearing Tuesday, council members will consider slashing VCC’s hourly service charge from $40 to $21.34 and Falcon’s from $65 to $39.69. Federal law allows cities to regulate cable franchises, but the companies can appeal any council ruling.

If the council does order a rate rollback, the companies would have to determine how many customers had paid for installation or service visits at the higher rate.

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“Maybe it’s 100 people, maybe it’s 500, maybe it’s 10--we just don’t know,” said the city’s media services manager, Shirley Cobb.

Ventura County Cablevision officials would not comment on the consultant’s study. And at Falcon, spokesman Steve Weingardt said the company would request a postponement of the public hearing. “We don’t have enough time to frame a response,” he said.

But city staff is recommending that the hearing go ahead as scheduled. Because of an unusually heavy agenda, the hearing will start at 6 p.m. It will be the council’s last meeting before a monthlong hiatus.


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