Cleveland Demands Rock Adelphia Communications


Adelphia Communications Corp. will pay a steep price-$5.5 million-for the transfer of Cablevision Systems Corp.'s Cleveland franchise.

The Cleveland City Council extracted millions of dollars in concessions from the MSO, mostly to help pay for computer learning facilities throughout the city.

Cleveland was the last of the 83 localities in Cablevision's Ohio cluster to approve the sale to Adelphia. Regulators there held tough until they got the concessions they wanted.

The transfer conditions include a $1.5 million "donation" to WCTN, a privately-run television station that focuses on minority issues. That venture was underwritten by a $4.5 million endowment Cablevision was required to pay in 1994.

Adelphia will also support WCTN by extending its reach to viewers beyond the city limits by 2003.

Another $1 million will fund cable-related expenses, such as cablecasts of City Council meetings. That will resolve the city's claim that Cablevision underreported its franchise-fee payments.

But the largest amount, $3 million, is earmarked for the Cleveland Foundation. A small portion of that money may go to local arts groups, but council members said the bulk of the money would establish community computer centers.

That requirement has at least one recent precedent. Last February, the Atlanta city council allowed AT & T Broadband to pay $8.1 million for relief from municipal-network obligations and a reduction of its required number of municipal channels. That city, too, said it wanted to use the funds to provide computer stations in low-income areas.

Cleveland also required Adelphia to commit to high-speed Internet connections to all of the city's schools.

For its part, Adelphia got the franchise transfer and a five-year extension of the current franchise, which now runs through 2006.