Council reviews guidelines suggested for cable television

June 20, 1993|By Aminah Franklin | Aminah Franklin,Staff Writer

Harford's cable TV operators would have to answer customers' telephone calls within 30 seconds during regular business hours, restore cable outages within 24 hours and hook up service for new customers within seven business days under proposed guidelines.

County Council members reviewed new Federal Communications Commission guidelines, based on the 1992 Cable Act, on Tuesday.

As the franchising authority for Harford County, the council has the authority to enact regulations based on the FCC guidelines.

A cable operator's phone lines could not be busy more than 3 percent of the time under the guidelines.

Companies would have to use a billing system that shows all charges and payments on the customer's account.

Cable operators also would have to give subscribers annual information about service options, prices, installation and complaint procedures.

And cable companies would have to offer service centers and locations for paying bills.

Mary Kate Matanoski, the council's legislation writer, recommended that the council adopt the standards.

The council would need to notify companies supplying cable at least 90 days before enforcing the requirements.

Ms. Matanoski also suggested enforcing any new regulations only when subscribers complain, rather than conducting regular periodic checks.

Before deciding whether to adopt the standards, the council must decide Thursday whether to apply on its own or with the three city governments in Harford for certification as a franchising authority, Council President Jeffrey Wilson said.

The three incorporated cities are Bel Air, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace.

After deciding how to apply the guidelines locally, the council is to take up cable TV rate regulation.

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