NEWPORT BEACH -- Cable customers and city officials are taking a
wait-and-see approach to the news that Adelphia Communications Corp.'s
Southern California operations are for sale.
The cable company on Wednesday announced it would start soliciting
bids for a number of its assets, including its Southern California
operations. Adelphia is one of two cable companies in Newport Beach,
serving about two-thirds of the city. Cox Communications Inc. is the
city's other provider.
"What this all means remains to be seen," City Manager Homer Bludau
said. "There have been a lot of service issues, especially complaints
about Adelphia's Internet service. This news is probably a good thing in
the long run, but we don't yet know who we would be dealing with."
Earlier this year, dozens of residents were registering with City Hall
their dissatisfaction with Adelphia's Internet service. Some complained
that, since the company's Internet partner excite@home had folded,
connection speeds, times and reliability were poor. Others said customer
service was substandard.
Partly in response to these issues, the city is planning a series of
workshops to gather resident input on cable service. These workshops are
especially tailored to consider special programming options, such as
adding more stations for community programming and persuading the cable
companies to produce more local shows, such as "Speak Up Newport," which
is now produced by Adelphia.
The city's contract with Adelphia and Cox expires in January.
Officials say they hope to gather residents' input to help them at the
bargaining table when renewing the contracts.
The news that Adelphia may no longer be a player, though, could affect
negotiations to renew the contracts. But it's still possible that the
current contract with Adelphia could be updated and renewed. Then, when
and if another company buys Adelphia's operations in Newport Beach, the
city would have to approve the transfer of the agreement to the new
The company ordered its financial advisor Salomon Smith Barney to
solicit offers for cable systems in Southern California, Florida,
Virginia and the Southeast as a way to fix recent financial problems.
"I am confident that the steps we are taking will enable us to achieve
our objectives of reducing debt, de-leveraging our balance sheet and
creating a stronger Adelphia," Chairman and Chief Executive John J. Rigas
said in a statement.