Stanford not sorry to hear about Adelphia sale

September 24, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Bankrupt cable giant Adelphia Communications Corporation announced the slice-and-dice sale of the company Tuesday, with plans for the 31-state franchise to be sold as a whole or in seven regional clusters. Kentucky, which includes services in Danville, Harrodsburg and Stanford, has been grouped with Virginia, Maryland and Colorado Springs.

CEO and chairman Bill Schleyer said the seven-way division is hoped to "maximize value for Adelphia's wide range of creditors and other stakeholders." The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2002 following an embezzlement scandal involving members of the company's founding family and the former CEO.

The possible sale could herald the end of America's fifth-largest cable television company, but brings tentative optimism to Stanford customers long suffering from cable woes.

"You hope whoever buys it will be somebody user friendly and have enough financial backing to provide proper service for our citizens," Stanford Mayor Eddie Carter said.


Stanford has been struggling under its 15-year Adelphia contract, with customer complaints ranging from poor or dropped reception to multiple rate hikes. City council members have also argued with the cable company on contractual issues such as who pays for Adelphia line relocation during the utility pole removal on Main Street this spring.

"I think they've addressed some of our problems ... It seems like they started to work with us in the last couple of months," including improving their communication with the city, Carter said.

Multiple rate hikes

Members of Stanford City Council and the community have met with Adelphia representatives twice in the last 10 months to accuse the company of multiple rate hikes. The hikes appeared to be Adelphia's effort to mitigate their financial quagmire through their customers' wallets, said some council members.

Letters to the editor previously run in The Advocate-Messenger also questioned rate increases in Danville. The multiple raises in rates are difficult to meet by customers on a fixed income, said Mary E. Stone of Danville.

Programmers are "raising the prices on us, and unfortunately, we have to pass that on to the customers," explained Adelphia administrative assistant Carla Deaton during a July 1 meeting with Stanford City Council. At that time, customers saw a $1.93 raise in basic cable rates.

It is still unclear exactly how a purchase of the Kentucky cable system will affect current contract holders.

According to Stanford's Adelphia contract negotiator, Lexington attorney Linda Ain, Stanford may review the legal, technical and financial qualifications of the buyer.

"Federal law provides that, if there's a transfer of control, they have to come to the city for approval," Ain said.

According to a press release issued by Adelphia, final bids on the company's assets could be expected by January.

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