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Maine Challenges Court's Blocking of A La Carte Law

The state of Maine is appealing a District Court judge's decision earlier this month blocking the imposition of a first-of-its-kind state law that would have required Comcast and any other cable operator that wanted to operate there to provide video channels a la carte. 

The judge granted a temporary injunction, saying Comcast et al. had made a good case that the law violates the First Amendment’s prohibition on speaker-based regulations, since the law did not apply to satellite or other MVPDs, but also suggested that cable pricing could be a reason for treating cable differently when it comes to unbundling. 

Marc Maron, a spokesperson for Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, confirmed that the state had filed a notice of appeal, which will go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. 

“While we certainly respect the lower court’s thoughtful decision," said Attorney General Frey, "this issue merits appellate review. We continue to contend that the First Amendment does not give cable companies the right, as a business decision, to force customers to buy dozens of channels they don’t want just to get the two or three they actually watch. The First Amendment is about protecting freedom of expression, not protecting business strategies that harm consumers.”

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.