A federal judge in Philadelphia on Friday approved a $50 million settlement that brings a decadelong consumer class-action lawsuit against Comcast Corp. closer to closure.
Judge John R. Padova's preliminary decision entitles about 800,000 current and former Comcast cable-TV subscribers in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties and Philadelphia to $15 in credits, or Comcast services valued at $30 to $43.90, according to court documents.
Those services include temporary Internet upgrades, six free pay-per-view movies, or two free months of the Movie Channel.
Comcast is required to notify its customers in monthly bills and to advertise the settlement in newspapers and magazines throughout the Philadelphia region.
Comcast spokeswoman Jenni Moyer said Friday that former Comcast cable-TV customers in those five counties also could participate in the settlement. Those eligible would have subscribed to Comcast between Jan. 1, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2008. They will be eligible for $15 in cash.
Plaintiffs attorneys are expected to post information on the settlement on the website www.cablesettlement.com within a month, court documents said. The website was not active Friday.
The suit, first filed in Philadelphia federal district court in December 2003, claimed that Comcast engaged in anticompetitive behavior by concentrating its cable systems in the broader Philadelphia area and making it difficult for RCN, a competitor, to expand telecommunications services here. By doing so, Comcast could charge higher prices for its cable-TV service, the suit claimed. The plaintiffs originally sought $875 million.
Comcast and plaintiffs lawyers battled in courts for years. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Comcast's favor in the case, sending the litigation back to federal district court. Plaintiffs narrowed the case to the five counties, and the two sides negotiated the settlement.