Cable Companies Sue the FCC For Playing FavoritesTue Feb 05, 2008 @ 11:28AM PST
Posted by Eriq Gardner
Six of the nation's largest cable companies have filed a federal lawsuit against the FCC, claiming the agency violated their free speech rights by ordering cable carriers to broadcast both analog and digital channels.
C-SPAN, Discovery Communications, the Weather Channel, TV One, A&E Television Networks and Scripps Networks claim in the suit that by granting broadcasters "dual must-carry" rights, cable carriers bounce them off of cable systems. They argue that the FCC is essentially playing favorites to over-the-air broadcasters.
"The Supreme Court has made it very clear that cable programmers have First Amendment rights," said C-SPAN chairman Brian Lamb. "It is frustrating to us and the other companies involved in this appeal that our audiences risk losing our programming and that we have to go to court just to get a fair shake from the FCC."
The FCC has been attempting to ease a digital transition for television viewers. Starting next February, television stations will no longer be allowed to broadcast in analog.
In reaction, the National Association of Broadcasters put out a statement calling the lawsuit “another attempt by cable interests to block a successful digital television transition.”