Adelphia to L.A.: Hike Is On


Adelphia Communications Corp. is standing firm on its planned rate hike for
Los Angeles despite a plea from Mayor James Hahn that the company reconsider its
'ill-advised' move.

In a letter to the company last Friday, the mayor cited the bad timing of the
6 percent increase, especially in an atmosphere of eroded consumer confidence
since the MSO filed for bankruptcy protection.

Local officials are also concerned that the increased subscription fees will
not go into local coffers, but into the global bankruptcy account.

City officials are pressuring local executives for a full build-out of the
operator's area properties. Currently, only one franchise, in neighborhoods
adjacent to the city of Santa Monica, is substantially upgraded within the city
of Los Angeles. Rebuilds in the other city franchises, in the San Fernando
Valley and eastern suburbs, are far from complete, although Adelphia officials
said work has resumed on area upgrades.

In a return letter, a copy of which was obtained by Multichannel News
late Wednesday, interim CEO Erland Kailbourne reiterated the market forces that
necessitated the increase, including expanded programming, hikes in sports
rights and the costs associated with 24-hour-per-day customer service.

He added that the increase was planned well in advance of the current
financial problems.

'While we acknowledge that rate increases are never welcomed by our
customers, we firmly believe that this annual adjustment is appropriate given
the rising costs,' Kailbourne wrote.

But consumers didn't see it that way. Callers to talk radio, and executives
of competing companies who are Adelphia consumers, said the brochure announcing
the rate increases did not promote the benefits to the consumer.

One customer said he fumed when he saw things like insurance increases and
salaries among the costs cited by the cable company.

Los Angeles city councilman Jack Weiss said publicly that the only increases
he wants to see are in customer service and high-speed-data penetration. That
councilman's office gets flamed by consumers with every misstep by the cable
operator, as his district is served in its entirety by Adelphia.

The increase takes Adelphia's basic service charge in Los Angeles to $48.89
per month, a $2 hike. Broadcast basic and the digital tier will each increase
$2. Premium services went up $1 per month, and additional digital outlets will
cost an extra 50 cents.