Marin to Comcast: Give the Radio Back

Marin County, Calif., residents want their FM radio back, and they are willing to hold up franchise negotiations to get it.

On April 26, the Marin Telecommunications Agency voted to require Comcast Corp. to restore FM-radio service as a condition in a new franchise.

For the past 19 years, cable operators in the San Francisco Bay area county carried FM signals to cable customers. Because of the topography, residents on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge from the city can't get San Francisco stations over the air.

But earlier this year, Comcast dropped the FM stations, calling the service a "vestige" and noting that consumers can get digital-quality sound from Music Choice. That did not mollify radio fans, some of whom trekked into the city to join a union-sponsored picket line against Comcast at the National Show last month.

Comcast officials said they will provide engineering assistance to the communities in the county in order to seek a solution to the lack of radio reception, but they stopped short of saying that they would restore FM to the cable package.