Comcast has agreed to pay $50 million in cash and services to settle a more than decade-old class action lawsuit challenging the practice of swapping and clustering cable systems (in the Adelphia. AT&T and other deals) on anti-trust grounds.
They alleged such clustering led to reduced competition, increased prices and incentivized it to deny access to regional sports nets.
That settlement will come in the form of $16,670,000 in cash and $33,330,000 in services to customers in its Philadelphia cluster of cable systems.
Comcast admitted no liability.
The company appeared to have settled the suit once before, but backed off in 2013 after the Supreme Court agreed to hear its challenge to the suit on the grounds that a district court improperly certified the class (give it standing to sue collectively) without looking at evidence that would determine whether the class qualifies for damages on a class-wide basis.(http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/supremes-overturn-lower...).
When the Supreme Court agreed that the class was improperly authorized, there was no settlement. But the class was subsequently narrowed.
This time around, a settlement has been filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
In it, Comcast will give current Philly cluster subs either a one-time credit of $15 dollars off their bill--cash if they are no longer subscirbers--which will be considered a cash election, or settlement credit good for "six free pay-per-view movies (an estimated $35.94 value); or (b) for customers who also subscribe to Xfinity® high speed internet service, four months free upgrade in Internet service from Performance Level to Blast!® service (an estimated $40 value); or one free month upgrade from Blast!® service to Extreme 105 service (an estimated $38 value); or (c) two (2) free months of The Movie Channel (an estimated $43.90 value)."
They will have a year to redeem the credits. If no election is made, members of the class automatically get two free months of The Movie Channel.
"Comcast denies any wrongdoing or liability," the settlement agreement said. "This Settlement is intended to resolve claims disputed as to both the facts and the law..."
Comcast is trying to get the Time Warner Cable merger through the regulatory process, so tying up outstanding litigation can't hurt.