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Court Rejects Bid to Void Program Access

3/15/2010 12:06 PM Eastern

Washington — The U.S. Court of
Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Friday
(March 12) denied Cablevision
Systems’ and Comcast’s joint challenge
to program-access rules that
compel cable operators to make
programming in which they own a
stake available to competitors.

The court ruled that the Federal
Communications Commission was
reasonable to conclude that the rules
were still necessary, but that cable’s
decreased dominance could soon invalidate
the prohibition.

The decision was 2-1, with Judge
Thomas Griffith concurring and
Judge Brett Kavanaugh strongly dissenting,
saying he thought the rules
concerning exclusive programming,
part of the 1992 Cable Act, were discriminatory
and clearly violated the
First Amendment.

Kavanaugh noted that the secondand
third-largest multichannel video
providers, Dish Network and DirecTV, are not subject to the exclusivity
ban, while No. 7 Cablevision is.

The cable operators and the FCC
had squared off in the court in oral
argument back in September over
the FCC’s five-year extension of the
program-access rules in 2007, with
both sides getting some tough questions
from the judges.

As this story developed on Friday,
a Comcast spokeswoman said the
company would not appeal the decision.
Cablevision said it was considering
its options.

 

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