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Press Release

PTC Urges California Supreme Court to Review Consumers’ Appeal Against Time Warner Cable for Anti-Consumer Practices

PTC, Pro-Family and Consumer Groups File Amicus Brief in Support of a Review

By: Kelly Oliver

Release Date: 4/14/2015

LOS ANGELES (April 14, 2015) – The Parents Television Council, and on behalf of other pro-family and consumer groups, submitted an amicus brief in support of a review of Fischer, et al. v. Time Warner Cable Inc., et al., to the California Supreme Court. The brief can be found here and the exhibit here .

The PTC is joined in this brief by organizations comprised of consumer groups, family groups, media watchdogs, public policy advocacy groups and faith-based groups which, together, reflect the concerns of tens of million of Americans.

“The time has come for our judicial system to step forward and protect cable consumers from the industry’s cartel-like practice of forced-bundling. The PTC, together with a group of organizations spanning the political spectrum and reflecting tens of millions of concerned Americans, urges the California Supreme Court to review the appeal of the petitioners who, in this case, are comprised of cable subscribers in California. The Court should grant a swift and comprehensive review of their case,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

“Time Warner Cable (TWC) must be held publicly accountable for what we, co-amici, and the petitioners believe is a violation of California’s consumer protection laws. TWC has bundled Dodgers and Lakers channels into its basic cable package without an opt-out provision. And as such, this costs every single subscriber over a hundred dollars each year, whether subscribers want those channels or not. According to the FCC, U.S. consumers are forced to overpay on their monthly cable subscription fees to the tune of more than $100 million per year. It’s time to stop the cable cartel from fleecing consumers in California.”

John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney for Public Knowledge, stated: "Time Warner Cable has raised California subscribers' cable bills by as much as 15%, making them pay for premium sports programming most of them have no interest in seeing. It is exploiting its market power to the hilt--because of its combination of popular programming and broadband, most customers can't vote with their wallets and change providers. Behavior like this should not be exempt from California's consumer protection laws; yet that is exactly what Time Warner Cable is arguing. Public Knowledge has joined with this diverse coalition of groups because no company should be above the law."

Tim Wildmon, president of American Family Association, said, “Families deserve the right to invite into their homes only the cable television channels they want. Today many unwanted visitors force their way into America’s homes because they are bundled with programming the family values. Cable companies abuse American families by refusing to provide a la carte pricing and selection of channels.”

Here are excerpts from the amicus brief:

The cable industry has successfully employed its version of the children’s game “Whack-A-Mole” by investing millions upon millions of dollars to kill each and every legislative, administrative, judicial or other public policy effort that pops up to expose and end the practice of forced cable network bundling. If the facts of this case could be carefully reconsidered in the light of California consumer protection laws, we firmly believe that the cable industry’s cartel-like practices would be exposed for the anti-consumer and anti-competitive schemes they truly are; and that a remedy would be granted in accordance with Plaintiffs’ prayer for relief.

We urge this Court to consider the intentional efforts of TWC to avoid any and all public accountability for violating California consumer protection laws. We urge this Court to see through their carefully-crafted corporate smokescreen of telling the Congress that forced bundling is not a matter for legislative review; while telling the FCC that forced bundling is not a matter for regulatory review; while telling the judiciary that forced-bundling is not a matter for legal review. We urge this not only because of the reality of the current anticompetitive marketplace for video subscription services, as demonstrated by TWC’s forced bundling of Lakers and Dodgers networks at a cost of over $100 per year per subscriber; but also because it appears that TWC intends to expand its cartel-like practices into broadband internet services in order to insulate themselves from any real future competition in that space as well.

The organizations cosigning this amicus brief are: American Family Association, Citizens for Community Values, Concerned Women for America, Consumer Federation of America, Decency Enforcement Center for Television, Illinois Family Institute, Media Research Center, National Center on Sexual Exploitation, and Public Knowledge.

The Parents Television Council® (www.parentstv.org) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media.

This national grassroots organization has more than 1.4 million members, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children.

The PTC™ also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.

Visit the new PTC Watchdog Blog at www.parentstv.org/blog.

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To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, please contact Kelly Oliver at (703) 307-9404 or email at kelly@kellyoliverpr.com.