resolution. Instead, Charter will appeal the decision to the Federal
Communications Commission, he said.
"They can't [force the cost-reduction measures] until we get an
official determination from the FCC," Camicia said. "We don't think this
particular practice is something the city can regulate."
Charter charges customers 95 cents per month to insure maintenance of
their cable and telephone wires. The City Council voted unanimously to
order Charter to reduce that charge to 4 cents, provide better notice to
customers that the program is optional and write refund checks to
customers who have paid for the service since Sept. 15, 1998.
Burbank City Atty. Dennis Barlow said Charter must comply unless it
obtains a court order. Barlow and other officials said Charter was
"They need to do it right away," Barlow said. "We hope they'll come
Charter may now eliminate the insurance program that enables cable
workers to fix all wiring problems within homes for free, Camicia said.
Camicia accused Glendale officials, who passed a similar resolution
Tuesday, of bilking the company. If Charter is required to implement both
city's orders, that may force Charter to go to an hourly rate of $22.61
for wire repairs, which would could mean more money for Glendale, Camicia
said. Glendale has a 5% tax on cable bills as part of a franchise fee.
"Some of us are not quite so trusting," Camicia said. "Why is it so
important for the city to do this? There is a big difference between 5%
on 95 cents than 5% on $23."
The comment irked Glendale officials. City spokesman Ritch Wells said
that if the issue was so important to Charter executives, they should
have attended a public hearing Tuesday.
"I find it unfortunate Mr. Camicia could make such an allegation,"
Wells said. "Reducing the wire maintenance fee will obviously make it
more affordable for subscribers, especially senior citizens on fixed
Charter earns about $40,000 a month or $480,000 a year in wire fees
from roughly 40,000 subscribers in the Glendale, Burbank and La Canada
Flintridge area, Wells said. Cities such as Burbank and Glendale would
give up 5% of that total, or about $1.20 per subscriber per year.
Camicia questioned whether either city has the authority to regulate
the maintenance plan, but FCC spokesman Mike Perko said it falls within
the city's discretion. Such decisions, however, are subject to review by
the federal agency, he said.
Bill Marticorena, Burbank's special counsel on cable issues, said the
city can regulate Charter's basic rate package, installation charges,
ancillary services and the wire maintenance program.
"The city's basis is clear," Marticorena said. "The FCC has ruled on
these cases previously."