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Cablers warned against rate hikes

Cable television companies could be forced to roll back rates if they raise consumer prices excessively while the government works on rules to enforce the new cable rereg law, the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday.

After rereg law takes effect, consumers who complain about excessive rates to the FCC could get refunds from their local cable companies, FCC staff members said.

In a letter to FCC chairman Al Sikes, lawmakers claimed that “many cable companies are raising rates … (and) have even asserted that their rate increases are a result of the Cable Act. Those assertions are false. Nothing in the Act requires rate increases.” It was signed by Sens. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Slade Gorton (R-Wash.) and John Danforth (R-Mo.) and Reps. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

FCC staffers said that it could be difficult to recover excessive rate increases, since the commission can’t act on complaints until the agency has completed the implementation of the new law.

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