Friday, August 24, 2007

Cable company in regulatory no man's land, SoCal city charges in lawsuit

This type of situation may begin to crop up frequently in California, where cable companies can opt to remain under local government franchise agreements or get a statewide franchise from the California Public Utilities Commission under new legislation that took effect this year, the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the city of Carlsbad believes Time Warner is operating outside the law because it doesn't have a franchise from the city nor has it received a statewide franchise. Nor has it even applied for one according to the CPUC's Web site.

Holding up a city franchise with Time Warner is Carlsbad's insistence on higher fees to fund broadcasts of city council and other government events.

It's probable there will be other such lawsuits brought by local governments over this and, more likely, when negotiations stall over buildout requirements in which the locals insist cable companies serve their entire communities instead of leaving parts in the dark on the wrong side of the digital divide. The likely targets include telcos and other cable players -- like Comcast for example -- that have so far not applied for or received statewide franchises.

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