Time Warner, Comcast Settle with Minneapolis

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Time Warner Cable and Comcast agreed to pay for a $3.5 million grant, as well as providing other concessions, to end a legal dispute with Minneapolis, according to the city.

The agreement paved the way for a change of ownership from Time Warner to Comcast -- part of the system swaps triggered by the acquisition by Time Warner Inc. and Comcast of the assets of bankrupt Adelphia Communications.

The city and Time Warner have been at odds for at least three years, arguing over alleged franchise violations by the cable operator. Disputes over alleged underpaid franchise fees and failure to provide state-of-the-art plant have lead to multiple lawsuits.

A 2005 suit on two alleged franchise violations was dismissed from U.S. District Court. The city followed that up by scheduling a series of administrative hearings on four alleged franchise violations, including the issue of the state-of-the-art plant. Last month, Judge Michael Davis ordered the city to end the administrative hearings.

The July 20 settlement should end the suits. Comcast will, however, still have to negotiate a 15-year-franchise renewal with the city.

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