Rebates Settle Suit in Ky.

Past and present cable customers in Jefferson County, Ky., will receive rebates — some worth as much as $49 — to resolve a class action suit over an improper pass-through of property taxes.

The settlement may affect as many as 200,000 consumers who bought cable services between 1991 and 1999 from a system that passed through the hands of a series of operators: Storer Communications, TKR Cable, a Tele-Communications Inc. partnership and finally, InterMedia Partners.

Insight Communications Co. bought 50 percent of InterMedia in 1999 and is the current operator, but the system stopped the tax pass-through before franchise-transfer negotiations occured, according to the plaintiffs' attorney, John L. Tate of Stites & Harbison in Louisville, Ky.

In 1991, Tate said, Storer added a line item to its customers' bills, assessing a per-capita share of the Kentucky Public Service Commission property tax to subscribers.

Local franchising authorities complained, then protested to the Federal Communications Commission, which did not take action, the attorney said.

When details of the tax and its elimination were publicized following a 1999 transfer, three subscriber groups filed lawsuits. Those proceedings were consolidated into one case before a court in Frankfort, Ky.; that effort was eventually certified as a class action.

The law firms are soliciting for affected customers, who were to respond by Nov. 15.

Present cable customers are eligible for a $14 discount on their bills, plus a coupon that can be used for pay-per-view events, service charges or other new orders, according to Tate.

Non-customers can receive up to $14 in cash, plus coupons for long distance or Internet services from AT&T Corp. Tate said Insight will administer the settlement.

"Storer, InterMedia, TKR, in whatever form they presently exist, pay the settlement," Tate said.