Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of ‘Must-Carry’ Rule

May 18, 2010 - 9:46 AM
The Supreme Court has declined to take up a challenge from cable television operators to the 18-year-old requirement that they carry local broadcast stations on their systems.
Washington (AP) - The Supreme Court has declined to take up a challenge from cable television operators to the 18-year-old requirement that they carry local broadcast stations on their systems.
 
The justices rejected an appeal Monday from Cablevision Systems Corp. The court upheld a federal "must carry" law, enacted in 1992 when cable TV systems faced much less competition than they do today.
 
Cablevision, the nation's fifth-largest cable TV operator, sued the Federal Communications Commission over its ruling that forced Cablevision to carry the signal of a distant home-shopping station on its Long Island cable systems. The federal appeals court in New York upheld the FCC's determination.
 
Cablevision said in court papers that "the monopolistic nature of the cable industry...has been replaced by vibrant competition."
 
The Obama administration urged the court to stay out of the case. It noted that being carried on cable systems "remains critical to broadcast stations' financial viability generally."
 
C-SPAN, Discovery Communications and Time Warner Cable filed briefs in support of Cablevision. C-SPAN said 12 million cables homes lost all or some access to its programming when cable operators were forced to make room for broadcast stations in the 1990s.
 
The station, WRNN is based in Kingston, N.Y., about 90 miles north of New York City.
 
The case is Cablevision v. FCC, 09-901.