Watching cable TV reception

Costa Mesa is considering hiring a consultant to inspect cable television service around the city to determine whether Time Warner Cable — the city’s exclusive provider since 2006 — has any problems that need fixing to improve reception.

In the past couple of years numerous residents have complained about the quality of Time Warner’s cable service, claiming that the picture is spotty and that reception is frequently interrupted.

The City Council has even hosted meetings with a Time Warner representative to ask for explanations for the problems. The company in the past has attributed the problems to “growing pains” associated with taking over the existing cable providers’ infrastructure.

When Los Angeles officials sued the company earlier this year, Costa Mesa’s city attorney got a copy of the filing to determine whether similar action might be necessary here.

Only seven calls have come into the city complaining in the past few months, according to Administrative Services Director Stephen Mandoki, but there’s no way for the city to know whether the problem has been fixed or whether residents have just given up calling the city.

A proposal will be put before City Council members at their afternoon study session Wednesday to spend about $20,000 to hire technology consultant Jonathan Kramer to examine Time Warner’s operation.

“We’d be looking to Time Warner to correct all the issues found in the field,” Mandoki said.

Kramer has performed such examinations on behalf of many cities over the past 24 years. Time Warner, he said, bit off more than it could chew when it took over cable operations from Adelphia and Comcast throughout Southern California all at once.

When Time Warner tried to integrate all of the cable machinery from over the years into one comprehensive system, there were problems because the equipment was installed at different times and operated by different companies, Kramer said.

He also plans to test the quality and consistency of the signal being piped into homes.

“If there are significant problems, [the cable company] usually ends up bearing the costs,” Kramer said.

ALAN BLANK may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or at

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