Supreme Court turns aside challenge to must-carry rules

Garrett Wollman
Mon May 17 16:44:00 EDT 2010

The Supreme Court today declined to consider the cable industry's
latest attempt to get out from under the burden of must-carry.  Lyle
Denniston of SCOTUSblog describes the case as follows:

	The Supreme Court refused on Monday to reopen the issue of
	Congress's power to order cable television systems to carry
	the programs of local broadcasters in their geographic areas.
	Without comment, the Court declined to hear Cablevisions
	Systems Corp. v. Federal Communications Commission (09-901).
	In essence, the cable TV industry was asking the Court to
	reconsider its rulings in 1994 and 1997 in the Turner
	Broadcasting cases, upholding the so-called "must carry" rule.
	The industry argued that competition has grown so much in the
	communications industry since the 1990s that local
	broadcasters no longer needed the "must carry" option in their
	broadcast areas, and thus it violates cable operators' First
	Amendment rights to choose their own programming.

	"The factual underpinnings [of the Turner Broadcasting
	rulings] have evaporated," the Cablevisions petition argued.
	"Most importantly, the monopolistic nature of the cable
	industry that was key to the Court's Turner decisions has been
	replaced by vibrant competition."  The FCC, in reply,
	contended that the realities of commercial life in local
	over-the-air TV broadcasting still justify the must-carry
	rule's enforcement.



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