Cable panel OKs $1 million-a-day penalty for RCN

Posted by Mitchell - February 23, 2004 (entry 151)

(originally published in the Chicago Tribune, February 22, 2004)

The Chicago Cable Commission voted Saturday to impose penalties of more than $1 million a day against cable provider RCN for violating its contracts to expand service in the city and failing to fund public access station CAN-TV, a city official said.

Constance Buscemi, spokeswoman for Chicago's Department of Consumer Services, said RCN failed to comply with its 2000 agreement to lay 676 miles of cable over five years. The company's 2003 construction plan proposed laying just 3.54 miles in the city's west, northwest and southwest neighborhoods, Buscemi said.

The Cable Commission also faulted the company for refusing to pay $215,000 in grant money owed to public access station CAN-TV, which broadcasts public service programs for the city, officials said.

Buscemi said the Chicago Cable Commission had given RCN until Friday to resolve its issues. "The City and CAN-TV have made every effort to work with RCN to help them find a way to fulfill their obligations," she said. "By their actions, RCN made the decision for the Cable Commission to impose these sanctions."

RCN has posted more than $3 million in security with Chicago for the three cable areas in which it had the franchise to expand service. Chicago's other two cable service providers are WOW and Comcast.

Last week, RCN Corp. said it planned to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection once it reached an agreement with its creditors.

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