AT&T L.A. Franchise Expires


AT&T Broadband's franchise for South Central Los Angeles expired as the
city's Board of Information Technology Commissioners failed to reach an
agreement of the term of an extension for the franchise.

City staff members sought a 26-month extension so that they could continue to
negotiate refranchise terms, exclusive of the dealmaking that will also take
place for the merger of AT&T Broadband and Comcast Corp. and the transfer of
ownership of South Central and other Los Angeles AT&T Broadband systems.

But board members couldn't agree on the term.

City staff members stressed that they needed at least two years to negotiate
the refranchise, plus all of the other agency business, such as the merger and
other cable refranchises. But opponents on the board viewed a two-year extension
as a license to continue poor service levels.

With one board member absent, two commissioners favored a one-year extension
and two voted for the staff-recommended 26 months. The extension is stymied
until the fifth member can attend a meeting to break the tie.

While that extension was stalled, the board approved a two-year extension for
Time Warner Cable's San Fernando Valley franchise. That operator has a better
customer-service record.

Ultimately, all of the city's 14 franchises will have to be extended, as they
all expire by the end of August and Los Angeles has not completed refranchise
talks with operators. The city intends to extend all of the franchises so that
they all expire at the same time: August 2004, with no possibility of further

At the same meeting, staff again delayed a report on its recommendation
regarding the AT&T Broadband-Comcast transfer. Staff members indicated that
they'd received 'new proposals' on some of the transfer issues and they needed
more time for analysis.