Time Warner Seeks Texas-Wide Franchise

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Time Warner Cable is taking advantage of the recent change in franchising law in Texas, filing for statewide operating authority even as the company goes to court to challenge a provision of that same law.

On Dec. 12, the operator filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston division, challenging language in the 2005 franchising legislation that, among other things, moves regulatory authority to the state from the cities, once an incumbent operator’s local franchise expires.

But the bill requires incumbents to continue paying 5% of franchise fees, to be remitted to local jurisdictions; and an additional 1% for continued support of public, educational and government programming support. The civil suit argues the state-mandated charge exceeds the federal 5% cap on all fees.

But as it challenges the law, Time Warner has also applied for state franchise authority for systems where the local pact is expired, or will soon. These communities include San Antonio, Alamo Heights, Mustang Ridge, Round Rock, Buda, Hays, Liberty Hills, Marble Falls, Burnet, Pflugerviller and West University Place.

Once a state franchise is granted, other Time Warner systems will migrate to state regulation as their current local pacts expire. Time Warner’s application should be approved by Dec.30, according to Terry Hadley, spokesman for the Public Utility Commission.

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