Q. Is there any government body or other local group that regulates or even oversees cable companies? I know they aren’t quite utilities like water and power, but they are similar and have monopolies over certain areas.
A. New Hanover County’s local agreement with Time Warner Cable expired on April 24 and, as required by state law, transitioned to a state-issued franchise.
State-issued franchises are granted by the N.C. Secretary of State, which oversees operations.
“State-issued franchises have no effect on day-to-day operations of Time Warner Cable’s cable systems or our customers,” said Keith Poston, Time Warner spokesman.
“We maintain strong relationships with the county and city officials in the areas we serve regardless of the franchise type, so if a customer contacts the city of Wilmington with a cable question issue, they still call us like they have in the past,” Poston added.
Poston stressed that Time Warner’s systems “are not and never have been monopolies. Any other operator may apply for and receive a state-issued franchise.”
“The expired local agreement was non-exclusive as well and allowed for competitors to seek, and county officials to grant, any competitor a local franchise agreement. Of course, in addition to other cable providers, we already face competition from providers in the coastal North Carolina area like DIRECTV, AT&T, Dish Network, Century Link, Suddenlink, ATMC, and so on,” Poston said.
A state law mandating state-issued franchise agreements to encourage video services competition was passed in 2006.
The Secretary of State Web site advises anyone having a problem with cable service to contact the N.C. Attorney General’s Office at www.ncdoj.gov/cable.aspx
Date posted: January 20, 2010
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