Report: Cable One legal dispute in Oklahoma leads to revenue shortfall in public schools

A lawsuit filed by Cable One against government agencies in Oklahoma is being blamed by local officials for a revenue shortfall of between $180,000 to $360,000 at the state's public schools.

According to the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, the Phoenix, Ariz.-based cable operator is suing the Oklahoma State Board of Equalization and the Oklahoma Tax Commission in a dispute relating to how the MSO is classified by the state for tax purposes. 

Since Cable One paid its 2013 and 2014 taxes under protest, the funds remain in an escrow account and cannot be accessed. 

Cable One representatives did not immediately respond to FierceCable's inquiry for comment. 

According to documents filed by Cable One in the Oklahoma County District Court in December 2013, the MSO had been taxed on the county level as a cable TV company for more than 20 years. The company said that for 2013 and 2014, the Tax Commission and Board of Equalization re-classified the company as a public service corporation.

This reclassification switched the task of assessing Cable One's tax burden from the county to the state level. Local officials defended the move, arguing in court papers that the MSO had transitioned from being just a TV video provider into a broader "transmission" company. "Cable One is a telecommunications communications, operating a radio broadcasting system and offering three telecommunications services," the agencies said.

District Court Judge Patricia Parrish, after hearing arguments in the case late last year, ruled in March in favor of Cable One. She determined that Cable One is both a cable TV company and "transmission company."

The ruling referred the MSO's tax assessment in the state back to the county level, but the Board of Equalization and Tax Commission have appealed. 

For more:
- read this Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise story

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