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

    by  • April 14, 2015 • Cable Choice, Television • 8 Comments


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

    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.



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

    1. William Hughes
      April 22, 2015 at 7:15 pm

      I haven’t had Cable TV for more than eight years now. Why should I pay $159.00 a month for the “privilege” of watching commercial INFESTED programming when for less than half of what it costs to subscribe (I average $65.00 a month) you can outright purchase your programming on home video (That’s DVD, Blu-Ray and “old-fashioned” VHS for those of you in Rio Linda!) and watch family-friendly programming in the privacy of your house completely DEVOID of advertising!

      • moax429
        April 25, 2015 at 11:07 am

        Not to mention said programs and movies on DVD, Blu-Ray, etc. will *not* be butchered to fit the time slot.

    2. brandon
      April 21, 2015 at 10:58 am

      Wont cable choice be more expensive for those who want most of the channels included in current packages.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        April 23, 2015 at 9:00 am

        The PTC advocates a modified “ala carte” system. Under this, if people WANTED to purchase a full package for less money per channel, they could. Or they could purchase smaller “bundles,” like a sports package, a “family” package, etc. with just those channels in it. Or they could buy a smaller package or two, then add additional channels for a small extra fee. Or they could buy only those few channels they actually watch (stuff they can get now for free over the air would still be included, as would things like C-SPAN, public access channels, and so forth).

        Really, it’s just customization, offering each individual viewer a lot more choice and control over how they spend their money and what they watch…just like people are already doing with Netflix and Amazon Prime. And it wouldn’t necessarily cost more per channel, as the recent move to ala carte by Canada has shown.

        • brandon
          April 23, 2015 at 1:14 pm

          You’re right that does sound better.

    3. Paul Guyer
      April 17, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      You are a sucker if you are paying ANYTHING for most cable channels- they already show COMMERCIALS, and lots of them! Why would anybody give them more money just for the privilege of watching them?

    4. Debbie Rosas
      April 17, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      I’m in San Diego, CA. Can you please include Cox Cable as well? We are tired of having to pay for packages that only have 2 or 3 channels that are worthy but the rest of them are so inappropriate. Thank you for all you do PTC!

    5. Simon Donald
      April 15, 2015 at 10:27 am

      As a proud member of the PTC I don’t think we should be associated with American Family Association. They are a recognized hate group.

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