Court Rejects Cable Pole Case


The Supreme Court Monday refused to hear a case challenging the rates cable companies pay utilities for their attachments to telephone poles and underground conduits.

Without comment, the court denied an appeal filed by Alabama Power Co., which had argued that cable companies were not paying just compensation for their attachments.

Under federal law, cable companies have a legal right to connect wires to utility poles under a rate formula set by the Federal Communications Commission.

Alabama Power fought the formula, claiming that the money allocated by it to utilities did not represent "just compensation," as required under the Fifth Amendment when the government authorizes the occupation of private property.

After passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Alabama Power raised annual rates for Comcast Corp. and other cable operators from $7.47 to $38.81. The cable companies appealed to the FCC that the rates were unlawful under the agency's formula. The commission agreed with the cable companies.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld the FCC's formula. Alabama Power appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court.