Catching Up: AG Backs Down In Connecticut Cable Dust-Up

In the face of criticism from consumers, the industry and his own governor, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has reversed his position on AT&T’s multichannel IP video service, and said the company should be permitted to go forward with marketing the service pending a new decision from Department of Public Utilities Control (DPUC). As reported, earlier last week, Blumenthal ordered AT&T to stop marketing and selling its U-verse video service and re-apply for cable TV franchises in each municipality — a requirement that AT&T claimed was superseded by a franchise reform law that became effective Oct. 1. Blumenthal’s order came as a result of a DPUC decision that U-verse was a cable TV service. That ruling itself was a reversal of an earlier call that U-verse, because it is delivered over an Internet Protocol (IP) platform, was not cable TV in the technological sense. In response, AT&T said it would end plans to invest some additional $336 million in new facilities, end plans to offer video service in the state and layoff some 300 employees. Blumenthal’s original order drew fire from AT&T, from most of the media in the state, as Gov. Jodi Rell (R), as well as state Sen. John Fonfara and state Rep. Steve Fontana, the two Democratic legislators who co-sponsored the state’s franchise reform law. Rell called on the DPUC to reverse the adverse ruling, although she does not have the authority to order it. Blumenthal now says AT&T should be allowed to resume marketing the service and has filed a request with the DPUC to reopen the case.