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Council signs cable contract extension with Comcast

August 22, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Frustrated because they have no say in rates, programs or channels carried, members of the Waynesboro Borough Council Wednesday nonetheless voted unanimously to sign a new 10-year contract with the television cable company that serves the borough.

The pact with Comcast Cable has a clause that could extend the contract for another five years when the 10 years is up, Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said.

The council held a special 15-minute meeting prior to its regular session to give borough residents an opportunity to question the contract. No member of the public showed up.

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The contract has been on public display, said Council President Douglas Tengler, who requested the special meeting.

"We can't request any channels," Hamberger said. "The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) does that. The contract does not allow the borough to request any specific programming and the council has no control over the rates the cable company charges its customers. Cable rates in Pennsylvania are unregulated, he said.

Hamberger estimated that Comcast has about 4,000 customers inside the borough limits.

The borough's franchise fee charged on customers' monthly bills is 3 percent. It brings in about $58,000 a year, Hamberger said.

He said the borough has fought with Comcast to offer upgrades that are included in contracts with larger area communities like Chambersburg, Pa., Shippensburg, Pa., and Carlisle, Pa.

"If they get upgrades, then they can give them to Waynesboro, too," he said.

Comcast's contract with Waynesboro is nonexclusive, meaning another cable company can move in and compete - a move highly unlikely because of the costs involved, Hamberger said.

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