By Robert Knox, Globe Correspondent
Some 73,000 households in Southeastern Massachusetts served by
Adelphia cable TV soon will become Comcast customers, probably within
the next year. For cable TV viewers in communities currently served by
Adelphia, the change will likely mean new programs, services, and
fees. For the town of Carver, it may mean beginning negotiations with
one company on a new cable contract and concluding with another.
The Carver Cable TV Advisory Committee is gearing up to begin talks on
a new 10-year pact, with two years left on its current deal. With the
joint $12.7 billion purchase of the troubled Adelphia Communications
by Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Corp. working its way through
bankruptcy court, the companies can only estimate that the deal will
be completed in the first three months of next year. By then the
Carver committee may be well underway in its contract renewal dealings
with Adelphia. But it's almost certain that Adelphia will not be
around when Carver completes its negotiations.
"The owners of [Adelphia] dug a hole they just can't get out of,"
said Ron Clarke, a member of the Carver cable committee.
In addition to Carver, Comcast is taking over nine other area
communities currently served by Adelphia: Abington, Rockland, Duxbury,
Kingston, Halifax, Marshfield, Pembroke, Plympton, and Plymouth.
Adelphia, then the sixth-largest US cable company, filed for
bankruptcy three years ago, shortly before its founder and two of his
sons were charged with financial fraud. The sale of the company to
Comcast and Time Warner, announced in April, needs the approval of
security regulators in addition to the bankruptcy court. The cable
companies believe it's a matter of when, not if, the deal will be
As required by law, Comcast has applied to each town for a cable TV
license transfer. The town has 60 days to hold a public hearing. If it
does nothing within that period, the transfer goes through
automatically -- but in either case the actual transfer will not take
place until the sale is final.
The hearings are not the time to air concerns about service, costs,
and favorite channels, officials say. Federal law allows the licensing
authority -- generally the local board of selectmen -- to examine only
a narrow range of criteria at the hearing, such as the company's
technical, financial, and management capability to provide the