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TCTA files suit over SB 5, the telecommunications bill

Austin, TX –

The Texas Cable & Telecommunications Association (TCTA) today filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, Austin division, to challenge SB 5, signed into immediate law Thursday by Gov. Rick Perry.

SB 5, passed during the second special session of the 79th Legislature, will adversely impact Texas consumers by dividing communities into the "haves" and "have nots" of advanced technologies for the home.

"Congress intended all Texans to have equal access to communications services provided in a truly competitive market," said Tom Kinney, chairman of the TCTA board and president of Time Warner Cable-Austin Division. "SB 5 clearly violates not only federal law, but the U.S. and Texas Constitutions as well. We have confidence that an impartial Court will base its decision on facts and ultimately rule in the best interests of Texans and of fair competition."

Named as defendants in the lawsuit, in their official capacities, are Gov. Perry and Public Utility Commission of Texas Commissioners Chairman Paul Hudson, Julie Parsley and Barry Smitherman.

The lawsuit contends that SB 5 discriminates in violation of the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, discriminates in violation of the Federal Communications Act, violates the federal prohibition on exclusive franchises, and violates the federal duty to guard against redlining.

The U.S. Congress and the Federal Communications Commission already have set rules that allow all consumers access to cable video services, no matter where they live or what their economic circumstances. SB 5 does not guarantee equal access to these services.

In addition, all providers compete on a level playing field under federal law. SB 5 clearly gives new providers entering the market an advantage over existing cable operators because the new entrants are not held to the same regulations.

"Texans lose under SB 5," Kinney said. "Competition can't flourish when businesses offering the same services are treated differently, for no reason. And without true competition, consumers don't benefit."

TCTA is the primary trade organization for cable operators in Texas.