Cable TV provider Spectrum is suing over a state law that goes into effect next month, requiring it to return a portion of a customer’s monthly bill when service is discontinued.

Spectrum Northeast and its parent, Charter Communications, contend its regional billing system is set up differently and that the new law that goes into effect on June 16 would cause irreparable harm.

Spectrum said it allows customers who terminate their service to keep their cable for the month instead of offering a prorated refund.

The refund was mandated under the state law sponsored by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, who said hundreds of Spectrum cable customers complained of a change in billing practices that left them on the hook for charges. Gov. Janet Mills signed the bill into law in March.

The lawsuit contends the Maine law is preempted by the federal Communications Act of 1934, which bars states and localities from regulating the rates of a cable operator if the Federal Communications Commission has found there is effective competition in the area. Spectrum has two direct competitors, DIRECTV and Dish Network, the lawsuit contends.

“Federal law does not allow individual states to force providers to sell TV services by the day,” said Charter spokesperson Lara Pritchard.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, who is named in the lawsuit, didn’t respond to a request for comment.


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