(a) Any person, firm or corporation who, after October 1, 1984, knowingly and willfully attaches or maintains an electronic, mechanical or other connection to any cable, wire, decoder, converter, device or equipment of a cable television system or removes, tampers with, modifies or alters any cable, wire, decoder, converter, device or equipment of a cable television system for the purpose of intercepting or receiving any programming or service transmitted by such cable television system which person, firm or corporation is not authorized by the cable television system to receive, is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor which may include a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00). Each unauthorized connection, attachment, removal, modification or alteration shall constitute a separate violation.
(b) Any person, firm or corporation who knowingly and willfully, without the authorization of a cable television system, distributes, sells, attempts to sell or possesses for sale in North Carolina any converter, decoder, device, or kit, that is designed to decode or descramble any encoded or scrambled signal transmitted by such cable television system, is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor which may include a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500.00). The term "encoded or scrambled signal" shall include any signal or transmission that is not intended to produce an intelligible program or service without the aid of a decoder, descrambler, filter, trap or other electronic or mechanical device.
(c) Any cable television system may institute a civil action to enjoin and restrain any violation of this section, and in addition, such cable television system shall be entitled to civil damages in the following amounts:
(1) For each violation of subsection (a), three hundred dollars ($300.00) or three times the amount of actual damages, if any, sustained by the plaintiff, whichever amount is greater.
(2) For each violation of subsection (b), one thousand dollars ($1,000) or three times the amount of actual damages, if any, sustained by the plaintiff, whichever amount is greater.
(d) It is not a necessary prerequisite to a civil action instituted pursuant to this section that the plaintiff has suffered or will suffer actual damages.
(e) Proof that any equipment, cable, wire, decoder, converter or device of a cable television system was modified, removed, altered, tampered with or connected without the consent of such cable system in violation of this section shall be prima facie evidence that such action was taken knowingly and willfully by the person or persons in whose name the cable system's equipment, cable, wire, decoder, converter or device is installed or the person or persons regularly receiving the benefits of cable services resulting from such unauthorized modification, removal, alteration, tampering or connection.
(f) The receipt, decoding or converting of a signal from the air by the use of a satellite dish or antenna shall not constitute a violation of this section.
(g) Cable television systems may refuse to provide service to anyone who violates subsection (a) of this section whether or not the alleged violator has been prosecuted thereunder. (1977, 2nd Sess., c. 1185, s. 1; 1983 (Reg. Sess., 1984), c. 1088, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 65; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)