Strike Two For Sky Angel Antitrust Claim Against C-SPAN

A D.C. District Court has, for the second time, rejected Sky Angel's antitrust suit against C-SPAN, the cable industry public affairs net. But for the second time has agreed to give it another chance to file.

The court also for the second time rejected Sky Angel's request for additional discovery into yet more C-SPAN board members.

Sky Angel has alleged that C-SPAN's cable operator members colluded to pull C-SPAN from Sky Angel's lineup after the distributor moved from traditional to over-the-top delivery.

But the district court rejected that argument in June 2013, saying Sky Angel did not have any facts, only conclusions, that there was collusion. The court has come to the same conclusion.

In a March 28 ruling, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras said that "even if C-SPAN may be capable of engaging in an intracorporate conspiracy, Sky Angel failed to plead facts that plausibly suggest that an agreement existed between C-SPAN’s MVPD board members.

In addition, he said, "Angel’s claim must be analyzed according to the rule of reason, under which Sky Angel is required, but has failed, to plead both a relevant market and C-SPAN’s power over that market. Because Sky Angel failed to rectify the deficient factual allegations of its original complaint, the Court will dismiss the amended complaint."

But, without elaboration, Contreras gave Sky Angel one more swing. "Because the Court’s reasoning applies to the entire claim, and not only Sky Angel’s claim against C-SPAN, the Court will dismiss the complaint as to all Defendants [C-SPAN board members were also named] and deny Sky Angel’s second request for early discovery," he said. “In this case, the Court has now disposed of four separate  motions....Nonetheless, the Court will give Sky Angel one more opportunity to amend its complaint within 30 days. An order consistent with this Memorandum Opinion is separately and contemporaneously issued."

C-SPAN had no comment.

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.