Settlement ends city cable dispute, clears way for Comcast to become provider

Comcast is poised to take over ownership of the city's cable system after a settlement agreement was reached July 20 that will resolve several years of legal disputes between the city and Time Warner.

Beginning sometime around the end of July, Comcast will take over Time Warner Cable's television operations and provide cable television, high-speed Internet and voice services to residents and businesses in Minneapolis.

As part of the agreement, the company will provide the city with a $3.5 million grant for cable-related purposes. The city will give its consent for the transfer of the Minneapolis cable franchise as part of the agreement, and key elements of a franchise renewal will be established to &#8220ensure robust public, educational and governmental programs for the next 15 years,” according to a city news release.

Other issues that have been settled by the agreement include channel capacity set-asides, institutional network deployment, franchise fees and various administrative issues.

Earlier this year, the City Council held hearings wherein the city argued that Time Warner violated its franchise agreement with the city in four instances: failing to build an institutional cable network for the city; reserving 25 percent of its system capacity for public use; failing to provide annual customer service surveys; and using the public right-of-way for its exclusive benefit. Around the same time, Time Warner filed a federal lawsuit against the city, claiming it was illegally seeking tens of millions of dollars from the cable company in exchange for approving a franchise transfer to Comcast.