KANSAS CITY, KAN. (CN) – Time Warner Cable abuses its monopoly on cable service in Kansas through an illegal tying arrangement that forces premium-channel customers to rent a cable box from Time Warner rather than buy a box from the manufacturer of their choice, an antitrust class action claims in Federal Court.
Plaintiffs say Time Warner forces them to pay a monthly fee for their cable box on top of the monthly fee for access to cable TV shows, and that it will not sell premium cable access unless customers also rent the cable box.
“In a matter of months, the rental fees the class is forced to pay for their cable boxes supplied by Time Warner greatly exceed their worth,” the class claims.
The class claims Time Warner is running an end-around FCC regulations, which require cable providers to make descrambling and security operations available to customers through a “CableCARD” instead of a cable box. The class claims Time Warner pushes its box as superior to the CableCARD, refuses to mention the CableCARD on its Web site, tells customers that “there are limitations to a CableCARD connection,” and tells customers that “Digital Cable and Digital Receiver are required to access Premium service. To receive all services, Digital Cable, remote and lease of a Digital set-top box are required.”
Plaintiffs are represented by John Edgar of Kansas City, Mo.