Charter Communications is taking the City of Louisville, Ken. to federal court, claiming that the cable charter it’s forced to operate under puts it at an unfair disadvantage in terms of competing with AT&T and Google Fiber in the region.
On Friday, Insight Kentucky Partners, a wholly owned subsidiary of Charter created when the MSO closed on its Time Warner Cable acquisition over the spring, filed suit against the Louisville/Jefferson County “Metro” government in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Louisville Division.
“Without cause or justification,” Charter said in its complaint, “Louisville Metro has violated the principle by allowing Insight’s two wireline video competitors to operate and thereby communicate with the public under materially less burdensome regulations and franchise obligations.”
The suit comes a little over two months after Charter government liaison Jason Keller sent a letter to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, as well as each member of the city’s 26-member council and five mayors in surrounding suburbs, stating that Google Fiber is operating in the city under less burdensome rules, despite the fact that Charter offers similar services.
"The current situation is like requiring the University of Louisville to use the NBA 3-point line, while its opponents use the closer college line," Charter spokesman Mike Pedelty, said to local paper the Courier-Journal. "More burdensome regulation inevitably means a higher cost to do business and ultimately higher prices for customers. We're simply asking the court to ensure the equal treatment state and federal law require.”
In its complaint, Charter cited the passage of the local government of the Google Fiber-backed “One Touch Make Ready” ordinance, which makes it easier for the operator to handle pole-attachment issues.
“This stark difference in regulatory treatment among similarly situated communications providers, all transmitting video programming from their facilities to their customers over their networks, in effect means that it is less burdensome and expensive for Insight’s competitors to speak in Louisville,” Charter’s suit added. “The result is an unlevel [sic] playing field that undermines, rather than promotes, competition and consumer choice by distorting the marketplace for video services.”
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