The City Council has narrowly approved an agreement allowing Times Mirror Co. to take over the city's cable-television franchise, currently owned by the Irvine Co.
The transfer was approved in a 3-2 vote Tuesday, with Councilman Barry J. Hammond and Councilwoman Paula Werner dissenting. Both said they wanted to give the city's Finance Commission more time to examine the transfer's effect on cable TV rates.
Finance commissioners tried unsuccessfully to determine whether Times Mirror's purchase of the franchise from the Irvine Co. would prompt it to raise rates to recoup the cost.
Times Mirror Cable Television of Orange County Inc. refused to tell the city how much it was paying the Irvine Co. to take over its Community Cablevision Co., citing company privacy, said Rick Paikoff, Irvine's budget director.
Mark Stucky, a Times Mirror cable official, said the company provided the city with financial information about its operation but believes that the price it agreed to pay for ownership control of the cable company is private information.
Mayor Sally Anne Sheridan, one of the three council members who voted to approve the transfer, said there was no reason to send the issue back to the Finance Commission if Times Mirror was unwilling to reveal the purchase price. Councilmen Bill Vardoulis and William A. (Art) Bloomer voted with Sheridan.
In the transfer agreement, the city states that it would not approve the ownership change if it believed that Times Mirror would use it to justify a rate increase.
As part of the transfer, Times Mirror agreed to fulfill all elements of the 13-year cable-TV franchise the city awarded to Community Cablevision in May.