R.I.'s Full Channel Fights On

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A small Rhode Island operator — keeping up its fight against an overbuild by Cox Communications Inc. — has filed another appeal of the MSO's operating certificate, based upon Cox's lack of plans for a separate institutional network.

Full Channel TV Inc. of Barrington, Warren and Bristol, R.I, is in a fight for its life against a corporate competitor. Its owner, John Donofrio, has filed several legal challenges against Cox, which was awarded a state Compliance Order Certificate to overbuild his system in 2000.

Donofrio's latest suit, filed in state Superior Court in Providence, challenges a decision by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers and its administrator, Thomas Ahern, to grant Cox a temporary waiver of state rules.

Specifically, the suit cites the requirement that any state-licensed cable operator must maintain an institutional and industrial network at its own expense. This network is to provide service to municipal buildings, hospitals and other institutions.

Full Channel said it was subjected to the requirement, while the state accepted Cox's assertions that its "Full Service Network" provides "functionality" that is an appropriate alternative to a separate I-net.

The state gave Cox a temporary waiver, but on June 11, Cox filed another extension, granted Aug. 26. Cox proposes to provide an alternative "virtual B cable" to meet the I-net requirement.

A Full Channel complaint filed the week of Sept. 17 asks a judge to find that the state ignored its own rules in its dealings with Cox and was arbitrary and capricious, or abused its discretion, in its dealings with the cable operator.

Full Channel hopes Ahern's rulings are either declared null and void or remanded to the DPUC with an order that all compliance issues be addressed.

The court will have to decide whether it will allow attorneys for Full Channel to submit written briefs in support of its latest appeal.

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