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Comcast Sues FCC

The Federal Communications Commission continues to draw legal fire for its decisions.

In the wake of almost two dozen legal challenges of its newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ruling, the FCC was hit again last week by a suit from Comcast, the nation's largest cable system, over the FCC's decision to reinstate a 30% cap on cable's share of multichannel-video providers.

Comcast telegraphed the move, warning in February that it planned to sue "at our earliest opportunity." Comcast is closest to the 30% cap with about 27% of multichannel-video providers.

The suit, filed in the D.C. Circuit, called the FCC decision arbitrary and capricious, as well as an abuse of its discretion.

Comcast Executive VP David Cohen told B&C in February just what Comcast thought was wrong with the decision: "The record at the FCC provided absolutely no support for a horizontal ownership cap of 30%—a position that has been supported by the courts," Cohen said. "In an era of increased and intensifying competition among telephone, satellite and cable companies, the case for a 30% cap is even weaker than when the courts rejected it six years ago."

The commission justified the cap, as a court directed it to, by saying that the 30% limit was "designed to ensure that no single cable operator or group of operators, because of its size, can unfairly impede the flow of programming to consumers."