Comcast Extended in S.F.

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A deeply divided San Francisco Board of Supervisors narrowly approved a contract extension for Comcast Corp., which will give the operator four more years to serve the city and county.

In return for continued operating authority, the operator agreed to pay $3.5 million to resolve a dispute with the city and county over a late build-out by Comcast's predecessor, AT&T Broadband.

Comcast will also dedicate $4.4 million to support public access during the next four years. That includes a one-time payment of $500,000, plus 52 cents per customer, per month, during the term.

Comcast serves about 170,000 customers in the city and county.

City staff members recommended the deal, noting that deregulation had stripped cities of much of their power to make demands. But at least five members of the 11-member board argued that the city could find a way to get a better deal from Comcast.

Comcast is at the end of a 40-year franchise, and the company and regulators agreed on the contract extension to give the parties more time to negotiate a full refranchise pact.

The supervisors approved the extension by a 6-5 vote. However, that was just the first reading -- the pact will have to be voted on again Sept. 27 to become final.

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