Fla. County’s Residents Want Role in Cable Contracts

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Adelphia Communications Corp.’s 15-year cable franchise is set to expire in Palm Beach County, Fla., at the end of the year and leaders of three associations that make up the South County Partnership -- the West Boca Community Council, the Alliance of Delray Residential Associations and the Coalition of West Boynton Residential Associations -- said they want to be part of the renewal process.

The county has held town-hall meetings, conducted telephone surveys and asked people to submit comments online. The groups, which represent more than 300,000 residents, met Thursday to draft a plan to address such common condominium and homeowner-association concerns as cable prices and customer service.

“We asked to be involved,” West Boca Community council president Sheri Scarborough told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “We want to sit in the negotiating committee.”

The associations also want the county commission to help bring cable competition to the western areas of Palm Beach County. Traditionally, the county goes through a six-month period of gathering public opinion before the commission agrees to a franchise renewal. But with pending federal legislation that could change the landscape of the cable business -- and Comcast Corp.’s pending purchase of the local Adelphia systems -- the road to an agreement between the county and the new cable provider that would cover all unincorporated areas could turn out bumpy.

Scarborough believes the county should wait to see what happens in Washington, D.C., before it signs another franchise agreement. “[The county] should hold off for at least a year,” she told the newspaper.

Nevertheless, county officials have said they’d like to sign off on a new agreement before the old one expires on Dec. 31.

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