A three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel has upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s rule that cable operators must share channels that they own or partially own with competitors, TheWrap reports.
The court’s decision was 2-1 in upholding the FCC’s ruling.
Cable operators, such as Cox and Comcast and Cablevision, have argued against the FCC’s ruling, saying that the rule violates the First Amendment. They also argue that the rule is out-of-date, as satellite and phone company competitors have eaten into the market share of the cable operators. The FCC first installed the rule around 10 years ago, and renewed it for another five years in 2007.
According to the article, written by former TVWeek Washington whiz Ira Teinowitz, "Most of the channels affected are regional sports channels, but some cable systems own several national channels, too. And they could soon own far more if Comcast’s deal for NBC Universal goes through."
The judges said while the cable companies have lost market share, they still control a majority of the market. But, the judges did say that if cable continues to lose its grip on the market, the FCC may no longer have the justification to renew the rule in 2012.
According to the article Comcast responded to the ruling with this statement: “We’re disappointed that the court has preserved the current unfairness that allows DirecTV to have exclusives for NFL Sunday Ticket and NASCAR Hot Pass while restricting the exclusives that cable operators may have, but it is welcome that the court — majority and minority alike — recognize that the marketplace of today is vastly more competitive than in 1992 and that rules and regulations must keep pace with marketplace changes.”