BURBANK : Cable Customers to Get Rollback Refunds

Cable television subscribers in Burbank can expect a refund following a Federal Communications Commission ruling that upholds the city's rate rollbacks--but it won't be a windfall.

"It's not much money, but we were just glad the FCC ruled in our favor. It's the principle of the thing," said Ron Stassi, the city's public works director.

He said the refunds are expected to amount to about $5.75 for each of Sammons Communications' 28,000 cable customers in Burbank.

Last year, the City Council ordered Sammons to reduce the monthly charge by 27 cents for basic Lifeline service, which includes over-the-air broadcast channels and public access stations. It also ordered the firm to cut its hourly rate for service calls from $71.25 to $22.35.

Sammons protested the order to the FCC's cable services bureau. The bureau upheld much of the city's order, but ruled that other rollbacks on the monthly charges for remote control and cable box rental were unenforceable because Sammons' rates were already below the maximum allowed by the FCC.

Stassi said the refunds, expected to be sent out within 60 days, cover the period between September, 1993, and July, 1994.

Sammons has also protested to the FCC over another rollback order covering the period since July, but the agency has not yet ruled on the matter.

The rate rollbacks were part of Burbank's efforts to take advantage of the limited regulatory powers granted to cities over their cable TV franchises under the 1992 federal Cable Television Act. The city has been certified by the FCC to regulate cable TV rates, officials said.

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