Time Warner Faces N.C. Suit

The city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, N.C., had to spend millions of dollars on municipal communications infrastructure, and the local government wants those funds back from Time Warner Cable, the local operator.

In a suit filed in the General Court of Justice, District Court Division in Charlotte, the local government asserted that it had to build its own network because Time Warner and its predecessor, Vision Cable of North Carolina Inc., failed to live up to the terms of its franchise for the area.

Local Time Warner executives branded the suit, filed June 24, as “frivolous” and “delusional.” The court action is “an obvious public-relations ploy to blackmail us into giving the county something it clearly isn’t entitled to,” said David Auger, president of the operator’s Charlotte division.

“Frankly, we’re appalled that the county is spending millions of taxpayer dollars on such spurious tactics,” he added.

Doris Boris, cable-communications administrator for the city-county government, said regulators have been negotiating with Time Warner since 1995, trying to get the operator to provide an institutional network that meets the franchise requirement to provide upstream and downstream transmissions of high- and low-speed data, interactive video and audio and closed-circuit information delivery on dedicated channels.

Auger, in his prepared statement, said a $20 million, separate fiber network for municipal use was not part of the company’s commitment to the county. Time Warner agreed in the franchise to provide a managed solution, where municipal data traffic travels securely on Time Warner’s plant, he added.