Charter Communications Inc. last week clarified the number of systems in which it will seek credits for past franchise fees paid on cable-modem revenue. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th District ruled that high-speed data was not a cable service in 2000, Charter continued to pay fees on the product in its Western service areas. But the MSO later determined that local regulation in one Los Angeles-area locality was written in a manner that would allow the company to stop collecting the fee.
Charter stopped collecting fees from consumers in that city, and in 15 other neighboring cities in the same corporate billing group. Though Charter did not charge modem customers the equivalent of a 5 percent fee, it continued to pay city governments that amount from its own coffers.
Charter is attempting to recover those fees, paid since January 2001, by reducing the cable franchise fees it pays in those 16 cities. Nationwide, Charter has decided to end franchise-fee payments based on cable-modem revenue as a result of the March 14 ruling by federal regulators.