Nov. 24, 2010 03:22 PM
LUS Fiber got some welcome news yesterday in its ongoing membership dispute with the National Cable Television Cooperative. LUS Fiber got some welcome news yesterday in its ongoing membership dispute with the National Cable Television Cooperative. The NCTC has denied LUS Fiber from joining its organization, which uses the combined buying leverage of its members to negotiate more favorable contracts with cable programmers. LUS Fiber  filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission earlier this year over the issue, arguing in large part that its chief competitor, Cox Communications, is using its position on the board of the NCTC to keep LUS out. The NCTC responded by filing a lawsuit in its home state of Kansas that attempted to block the FCC complaint.

In a 25-page opinion yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Vratil threw out the NCTC's lawsuit, ruling that "the FCC has exclusive jurisdiction over [NCTC]'s claim. The ruling also notes that federal law "makes it unlawful for cable operators and certain satellite programming venders to engage in unfair methods of competition' or deceptive acts or practices' that hinder' a multichannel video programming distributor such as [Lafayette] from providing satellite cable or broadcast programming to consumers," In its FCC complaint, LUS Fiber has argued it stands to save up to 20 percent in programming costs by becoming a member of the NCTC. LUS Fiber has not received any word on when the FCC may rule on its complaint, which was filed in June.

In a statement released yesterday, Lafayette city-parish attorney Pat Ottinger responded,  "we are extremely gratified that the Federal District Judge issued a well reasoned, thoroughly supported decision which grants our motion to dismiss the suit by NCTC. It is regrettable that the NCTC has taken the position that Lafayette may not be considered for membership while, at the same time, extending membership to two other similarly situated municipalities. The refusal of the NCTC to admit Lafayette to membership can only be understood as an effort to deny Lafayette the opportunity to enjoy greater cost savings for the benefit of its subscribers as are enjoyed by other members of the NCTC. We look forward to an adjudication of our pending complaint by the Federal Communications Commission."