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Burbank might seek cable fee rebate

Josh Kleinbaum

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

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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

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that that was not according to [Federal Communications Commission]

regulations.”

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

filing.

Burbank is claiming that the rate increase should not be applied

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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

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attorney representing Charter, said that the company had the city’s

permission to file the rate increase early. City officials deny that

claim.

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.


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