Oceanic and parent facing hefty fines


POSTED: Sunday, January 25, 2009

Imagine being threatened with fines totaling $97,500 in this economy.

It happened to Oceanic Time Warner Cable the same day its parent company, Time Warner Cable Inc., was named in three documents posing a possible $40,000 in penalties. That adds up to $137,500.




On the Net:

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The two were named in eight of 31 Federal Communications Commission forfeiture orders and/or notices of apparent liability for forfeiture issued last week.

Notices of apparent liability for forfeiture, or NALs, get the ball rolling toward a possible fine and allow the recipient to present reasons why they should not be penalized.

Forfeiture orders, however, are sort of the end of the road. They contain no language pertaining to appeals, but that never stopped an attorney worth his or her salt.

Oceanic historically refers reporter inquiries in FCC matters to corporate, where Director of Public Relations Justin Venech said, “;we do not agree with them and will be responding to the FCC.”;

Pressed about the finality of the forfeiture orders, Venech said Time Warner is in the process of responding to all of the notices.

Forfeiture orders provide entertaining reading for all who delight in the deft handling of minutiae in the course legal swordsmanship.

In one of its arguments, Time Warner counsel stated that the FCC's finding of apparent liability in one matter intrudes upon its First Amendment rights. FCC attorneys flat-out rejected the contention, citing precedent.

The $7,500 forfeiture order against Oceanic finds that it failed to give the state's Cable Television division a required 30-day notice of its plan to move certain channels to a switched digital video platform.

As previously reported here, SDV allows the cable company to conserve bandwidth, but the result, according to the FCC order, was that customers using CableCARD decryption technology “;received one group of channels on Sept. 23, 2007, and a smaller group of channels the next day.”;

One of the two $20,000 forfeiture orders finds, among other things, that Oceanic's Kauai operation moved certain channels to the SDV platform Nov. 6, 2007, making those channels unavailable to CableCARD subscribers.

The other $20,000 forfeiture order also pertains to the Nov. 6 SDV move, but by its central Oahu cable system.

The FCC forfeiture orders direct the company to provide refunds to affected customers.

The two notices of apparent liability, each worth $25,000, accuse Oceanic of failing to comply with an FCC directive to describe the way it planned to refund Kauai and Central Oahu customers for the loss of channels to SDV.

Time Warner has a month to pay up or file arguments in its defense.


Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).