The city can fine cable companies up to $3,000 for each violation.
The Los Angeles Times points to other major metropolitan areas — Seattle, Montgomery County, Md., and Washington, D.C. — where municipalities are considering writing cable consumer rights into law. Subscribers in North Alabama have some of the same complaints.
"The (cable) industry has continued to rank pretty low in customer satisfaction for a number of years, and that low customer satisfaction translates into complaints made to local governments," said Libby Beaty, executive director of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors. Her members are government cable regulators.
Cable companies say, predictably, that Los Angeles' directives are burdensome and inefficient, as well as making it more difficult to compete with satellite TV companies, which are not city-regulated. Cable companies also say their customer-service record is improving and complaints are falling. "It's market-driven," says one spokesman.
Indeed, the free market and new technologies are giving consumers more options, and competition will probably result in continuing cable service improvements. But in the meantime, cable companies that use public rights of way are the most feasible option for many consumers. Local governments need to make sure these companies give reasonable customer service.