In a victory for the Texas Cable Association and the nation's second largest operator, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Texas' state franchising law unconstitutionally discriminated against Time Warner Cable and other incumbents will stand.
That means cable operators serving many of the state's largest cities won't have to wait until their current franchises expire.
The Supreme Court on Monday June 18 refused to hear a Texas Public Utility Commission appeal of the Fifth Circuit decision victory in a challenge to the statute by TWC and the Texas Cable Association.
Texas' uniform statewide franchising law allowed new entrants and overbuilders to apply for the statewide franchise, but not incumbent cable operators until their current municipal franchise deals were over, the principal incumbent in the state being Time Warner Cable. After TWC and TCA took the law to court, but before oral argument in the Fifth Circuit, the legislature amended the law so that incumbent cable operators could abrogate their existing municipal franchises, but only in cities of less than 215,000 people, which meant cities like Dallas and Lubbock and Corpus Christi.
The Court of Appeals ruled that "provisions excluding incumbents from a statewide franchise violate the First Amendment."
"The Texas Cable Association is extremely pleased that this long legal battle is over, and that federal courts on both the district and the appellate levels vindicated our argument that the 2005 statute is unconstitutional because of its disparate treatment of video providers in Texas," said TCA spokesman Kirsten Voinis.