Court Denies Sky Angel Request for Pre-Complaint Discovery

WASHINGTON — A U.S. District Court judge here has denied Sky Angel's request for early discovery related to the identity and conduct of C-SPAN's board of directors prior to refiling its complaint against the cable public-affairs network for dropping the Internet protocol-delivered version of its programming service.

Last month, the court dismissed over-the-top video provider Sky Angel's antitrust suit against C-SPAN, but did so without prejudice. The court signaled that Sky Angel could re-file its complaint, which the online video provider signaled it would do.

Sky Angel then asked the court to allow it to conduct "limited" discovery before it re-files the complaint in order to take up to six depositions from C-SPAN board members to determine "the means by which C-SPAN’s Board of Directors authorized C-SPAN to block Sky Angel from carrying its programming, the identity of the actors involved, and the identity of any individual(s) interceding on behalf of any third parties to alter C-SPAN’s formal business arrangement with Sky Angel.”

Judge Rudolph Contreras denied the request. "[A]lthough Sky Angel appears certain that C-SPAN’s sudden termination of the IPTV Agreement could only have come about as a result of foul play … the Court notes the speculative nature of that assertion and declines to depart from the normal order of discovery in order to indulge Sky Angel’s theory at this stage," he wrote.

 He also pointed out that Sky Angel had itself conceded that the discovery was not necessary, saying it would amend the complaint without it based on additional information it already had. In that case, he said, the burden and expense it would "inflict" on C-SPAN and third parties would not outweigh the benefit.

 Sky Angel's amended complaint is due Aug. 5.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.