The power of an LFA is derived from several FCC regs. LFAs are specifically allowed to regulate certain areas (basic cable rates, video quality, etc) and specifically not allowed to regulate other areas (channel choices, internet performance, etc).
LFAs have a significant amount of power in some areas and virtually none in other areas. LFAs can audit the cable operator's books, fine cable operators, or in extreme cases revoke their franchise. At the same time, LFAs have a vested interested in protecting the cable operator because the community receives franchise fees and other benefits (funds for community activities, cable channels for the public, schools, and government, etc) from the cable operator.
The degree to which LFAs do such enforcement depends on the terms of the franchise, satisfication of the citizens, and the local politicians. An LFA has a great deal of discretion in how it carries out its oversight duties and LFA quality varies greatly from one jurisdiction to another.
Some communities also have citizen committees or commissions that complement the activities of the LFA. Like the LFA, activities and quality of local citizen boards vary greatly.
Thanks to DonLibes
*This FAQ is based on user knowledge from a volunteer core of BroadbandReports' members. This FAQ in no way constitutes official information from Comcast or any of its affiliates.