Live Oak Resident To Meet With FCC
                             

Article Courtesy of The Tampa Tribune

By Laura Kinsler

Published March, 2008

LIVE OAK PRESERVE - The New Tampa community that has made such a stink over its cable TV service is getting an audience with the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Homeowner Zuriel Cabrera, who launched www.banbulkbilling.com, is scheduled to meet with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and other policymakers in Washington on June 18. The commission is considering a proposal to prohibit cable companies from entering into long-term contracts with condo boards and homeowners associations.

FCC commissioners and staff already have had dozens of meetings with lobbyists for cable companies and apartment owners.

"This will be the first time they hear from homeowners," Cabrera said.

He will be joined by Marilyn Castro, whose Virginia neighborhood is locked into a 75-year cable contract.

Live Oak's developer-controlled homeowners association tied the community into a 15-year contract with Century Communications, a private cable company owned by the developer's brother. More than 100 Live Oak residents have filed comments with the FCC asking it to void the contract, which requires homeowners to pay for cable, Internet service and home security monitoring through their association dues.

Century sold the contract to Bright House Networks this month. It also sold the contract for The Hammocks, a 500-unit town house community in New Tampa also developed by Transeastern Homes.

Hundreds of Live Oak residents who also subscribe to Verizon's FiOS service or use satellite providers because they are unhappy with the quality of Century's service wanted the contract voided, not sold.

The big problem with bulk contracts, resident John Carter said, is that the association must pay for cable service to all homes, even if no one is living there or if the customer uses another provider.

"The real kicker for me is the fact that they're allowed to bill empty houses," Carter said. "All we want is to be able to choose our own service. We don't need a discount. Just give us the same deal you gave everyone else."


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