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Windstream Gets TRO Against Charter for Bankruptcy Ad Campaign

Judge and Gavel

A bankruptcy judge on Monday granted Windstream‘s request for a temporary restraining order barring Charter Communications from distributing an advertisement suggesting Windstream customers could lose service because of its chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Windstream, which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February, filed its suit in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. It alleged Charter engaged in a “scare-tactic” campaign to deceive customers into believing it would no longer provide services and was going to liquidate.

David Avery, Windstream’s vice president of corporate affairs, confirmed the temporary restraining order. The judge ruled from the bench and the written order will be coming later, he said.

Windstream provided no further comment. Charter also declined to comment.

In our Q&A at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Windstream channel chief Curt Allen details what’s in store for the company’s partners as it pushes through chapter 11 bankruptcy.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, the ruling also ordered Charter to restore service to any Windstream customers who switched to Charter as a result of the advertisement.

According to Windstream’s complaint, Charter, through its Spectrum brand, started the campaign to “mislead, deceive, and confuse consumers regarding the reason, status, and consequences” of its Chapter 11 filing. Charter disseminated false advertisements targeting Windstream’s strongest customer bases in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina and Ohio, it said. This included both business customers and consumers.

Windstream pointed out that Charter sued and obtained a temporary restraining order against DirecTV for engaging in “virtually the same bad acts” during Charter’s Chapter 11 case 10 years ago.

The Chapter 11 filing isn’t expected to disrupt the debtors’ operations or Windstream’s ability to continue serving its customers, Windstream said in its complaint.

Windstream also alleged Charter disconnected service to about 350 Windstream customers without notice to “fabricate uncertain service.” When Windstream customers contacted Charter to have their services reinstated, they were told that service was not being reinstated because of Windstream’s failure to pay certain amounts due to Charter, according to the complaint.


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