Charlotte, NC - Seeking to recover funds on behalf of the taxpayers, attorneys for Mecklenburg County have filed a lawsuit against cable television provider Time-Warner. The lawsuit, filed June 22 in Mecklenburg County civil court, also seeks to require Time-Warner to install the cable infrastructure promised to the County by Time-Warner and its predecessor.
The lawsuit alleges that Time-Warner did not keep its promise to provide to the County, free of charge, an Institutional Network (I-Net), which is a multi-purpose communications network generally constructed as part of a cable system. The County relied on the promise to provide an I-Net in awarding the cable franchise to Time-Warner's predecessor, Vision Cable, in 1983. The County contends that Time-Warner has failed to provide the promised I-Net, despite having made tens of millions of dollars from Mecklenburg County subscribers since taking over the cable franchise in 1995.
Mecklenburg County has been negotiating with Time-Warner since 1995, and the company has been operating without a franchise agreement since 1997. In the past two years, the County has granted Time-Warner seven extensions of time to meet its obligations or provide an acceptable alternative. The County filed its lawsuit on June 22 because the protracted negotiations had reached an impasse.
In the lawsuit, the County has asked the Court to order Time-Warner to provide an I-Net comparable in today's technology to that which its predecessor promised to provide over twenty years ago. The County also seeks to recover damages to compensate the County for the tax dollars spent to obtain electronic services which would have been available free of charge if an I-Net had been provided. Finally, the County seeks reimbursement for Time-Warner's commercial use of the cable capacity which it promised to reserve for the County's use.