City officials heard testimony last week from representatives of the two cable companies that operate in Newport Beach, both of which want their contracts renewed before the agreements expire in January.
Saying that they plan to offer competitive rates, improved technology and more channels, both companies are requesting 20-year contracts instead of the 10-year pacts the city would prefer.
The companies, Community and Comcast, contend that longer contracts are needed because they plan to make large investments in their systems and need the assurance that those outlays will be paid off gradually.
But city officials said they are concerned about residents' complaints of high prices and service problems and want some way to monitor the businesses' performances if the longer contracts are granted.
Councilman John W. Hedges said he often receives complaints from residents in his district about the cable service. He said he would like to see the companies' records of service complaints and the responses.
He added that he prefers a shorter contract, possibly two to five years, in order to better monitor the companies' performances.
Representatives from both the Fire Department and the Newport-Mesa Unified School District told city officials that they would welcome the new channels and the ability to produce their own programs for community access.
Both companies plan to increase the number of channels to 54 if the longer contracts are given.
The City Council will hold additional discussions on the contract-length issue before contracts would need to be renewed in January.