Claiming that Charter Communications improperly submitted paper- work
for its last rate increase, the Burbank City Council will consider
issuing a rate order at its Tuesday meeting and could order the cable
company to issue a rebate to customers.
“They submitted their paperwork prematurely back in December of
2002 for a rate increase that they wanted to take effect on March 1,
2003,” Senior Assistant City Attorney Rick Morillo said. “We contend
that that was not according to [Federal Communications Commission]
The March 1 rate increase pushed the basic cable rate from $12.81
to $13.51 per month. But FCC regulations prevent a cable company from
filing paperwork for a rate increase more than once every 12 months,
and the increase came just nine months after Charter’s previous
Burbank is claiming that the rate increase should not be applied
for another three months, saving subscribers about .65 cents each
month for three months, or $1.95 total.
“It sends a message that we are watching,” City Manager Mary
Alvord said. “There are rules and regulations about how services,
fees and charges are established. Maybe, at end of this, it will cost
more to process [than we’ll get out of it], but we are being
watchdogs on behalf of the community.”
In a letter sent to the city on Tuesday, Steven Horvitz, an
attorney representing Charter, said that the company had the city’s
permission to file the rate increase early. City officials deny that
If the council issues the rate order, Charter can appeal to the
FCC. Representatives from Charter did not return phone calls Friday.
“We do have a responsibility as the local regulator, and this is
one area that the law does leave to us to address,” Morillo said.
The cities of Glendale and Burbank both contract with Charter for
cable service, and Glendale’s City Council will also consider issuing
a rate order on Tuesday.