“Groups attack cable TV change”

This morning’s Advocate has a basic story on the Lousiana Municipal Association and Police Jury’s constitutionally-based lawsuit aimed at the “Consumer Choice for Television Act.” (For a more detailed account see my recent blog post, and for the history you can search our site on the tag “state video franchise.”)

The news contained in the story is that AT&T and the Cable guys agreed, after a meeting with the judge and the associations, not to take advantage of the opt-out provision of the law until the case is settled.

“The act is taking effect, but no cable company has the authority to opt out at this point,’’ Police Jury Association attorney Dan Garrett said.

No additional competition from AT&T and wholesale opting out of local franchises by the cable companies–leading to revenue loss and loss of local PEG channels is what has happened in North Carolina. Louisiana’s local governments are attempting to control this malign effect of the new law.

The LMA-LPJ lawsuit turns on the opt-out provision. The question the court will have to answer is if the law, by providing for voiding a valid contract entered into by home-rule charter communities, has overstepped constitutional provisions that guarantee that home-rule municpal contracts cannot voided by legislative action. The associations are asking that if the finding is in their favor that the judge also rule that the provision that allows the cablecos to get out of its contracts is so intertwined with the rest of the law that the whole thing needs to be struck down. So there are three possible outcomes: the communities can lose altogether, or get a decision that merely lets the clock run out the current contracts, or the decision could overturn the law altogether.

Should be interesting to follow. If they loose you can expect that the lose of revenue will, over time, lead to higher taxes.