Why can't we be friends? Cable disputes heating up

It could be the weather or the sour economy that's making people grumpy these days. Or it could just be too many confrontational cable "news" shows. Whatever it is, relations between communities and their cable providers and even communities and their residents over being cable providers are boiling like warm beer on a hot sidewalk.

Tonight, residents of Opelika, Ala. are expected to flood city hall with support and opposition to the community's plan to establish a smart grid fiber-based telecommunications service that would offer cable TV. Among those expected to attend are representatives of incumbent cable provider, Charter Communications (OTC BB: CCMM) and provider-wannabee Knology (Nasdaq: KNOL). City officials, hoping to make their case for a city-run business, will demonstrate Microsoft's MediaRoom IPTV middleware platform and show consumers the increased bandwidth the town could have through a fiber-based smart grid.

In another part of the South, it appears that communications are just a word to the two sides in a dispute between McAllen, Texas and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC-WI) over digitizing two local public TV channels. "Each camp has consulted lawyers and fired off official statements but they haven't talked face-to-face. If the dispute lands in federal court, they're unlikely to speak outside it," reports McAllen's newspaper The Monitor.

Throw in an increasingly ugly situation between Disney (NYSE: DIS) and Time Warner Cable that is now enveloping Bright House Networks in Florida and it seems to be a long hot summer bubbling up below the Mason-Dixon Line.

For more:
- OANow.com has this story
- and this story
- The Monitor has this story
- and the Orlando Sentinel this story

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Opelika smart-grid telecom company plan no slam dunk
Uh, oh, lawyers getting involved in Texas' public access feud
Disney, TWC continue their retransmission consent debate with FCC