Here's one sure way cities can lower cable rates: they can cut their share of the pie.
Cable consumers in Hampden, Maine, (population: 6,327) will see their rates drop from $1.90 to $8.00 a month, due to recent actions taken by the town council. Elected officials voted to cut Adelphia Communications Corp.'s franchise fee from the current 5% to only 1%.
That means for subscribers now paying $41.25 for basic and expanded basic will see $1.65 shaved from their monthly bills.
Town manager Susan Lessard said the cable agreement allows the town to collect a fee of up to 5%, with 1% given to a regional consortium that produces public-access programming/ and the rest used by Hampden for its own educational and government access.
But the town never launched those two channels. Instead, it collected the money and used it to offset other tax burdens. Lessard said during this year's budget meetings, councilors began to question the fairness of the franchise-fee collection, as it requires cable subscribers help pay for services utilized by nonsubscribers.
The council voted May 22 to cut out its share of the fee and only collect the regional-access levy. The decision cost the locality about $30,000.