The FBI has begun contacting cable networks about Charter Communications Inc.,
asking for information of how the cable operator counted its subscriber base.
At least eight programmers have been called by FBI agents in the past two
weeks, with questions centering on an odd move last December in which the MSO suddenly declared that it was claiming rebates on
license fees that the company mistakenly counted but that were actually bad-debt
customers that weren't really paying.
Charter reversed course in April and paid networks most of the money. But
since the company faces a grand-jury inquiry into, among other things, whether
it was overstating its subscriber counts, questioning networks paid on a per-subscriber
basis is natural.
So far, network executives sid, FBI agents are not asking about other
operators, but they are interested in general industry practices.
Charter would not comment.