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Comcast to pay $225K to end public-records probe

Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable-television operator, will pay the federal government $225,000 to settle accusations that the company violated rules on keeping records available for public inspection.

Under the agreement, the Federal Communications Commission will end its investigation into whether Comcast failed to maintain records at its local offices on political advertising, repairs and other matters required by agency regulations, the FCC said in an order distributed by e-mail.

Comcast said the rules require operators to maintain the records at one location per cable "system," not in every local office, according to the FCC order. As part of the settlement, the Philadelphia-based company agreed to tell all customers where to find the local public-inspection file and will post the locations on its Web site and at local offices.

"The improved compliance plan that we agreed to, and the FCC approved, renews our commitment to ensure that our public files contain all the required information and are accessible to the public," Comcast spokeswoman D'Arcy Rudnay said.

The FCC said it began its probe in response to a November 2003 complaint from the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, labor unions that represent about 2,000 Comcast employees. The settlement resolves the complaint, and Comcast didn't admit or deny any wrongdoing or violations.

The incident shows that the FCC should require the public-file information to be made available on cable operators' Web sites, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, the FCC's two Democratic commissioners, said in a statement.