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Author Topic: Broadcasters Challenge Constitutionality of Carriage Mandates  (Read 83 times)
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« on: June 27, 2020, 05:40:22 PM »

Broadcasters Challenge Constitutionality of Carriage Mandates

By John Eggerton
6 days ago

Pushback over cable claims that leased-access rules violate First Amendment rights

Broadcasters are pushing back on cable arguments that leased-access rules represent an infringement on cable's First Amendment rights, and for good reason. If broadcasters want to preserve their cable carriage mandate, which they definitely do in a world where most broadcast viewing is over cable and satellite retransmissions — the cord-cutting trend notwithstanding — they want to nip the First Amendment challenge to that other carriage mandate in the bud.

For one thing, and a big thing, if that leased-access channel mandate were considered a First Amendment violation, it would raise issues about the constitutionality of the must-carry regime, which mandates that cable operators carry any TV station if the broadcaster requests it.

In June 2019, the FCC voted unanimously (with a couple of partial dissents) to tweak and review its rules requiring cable operators to provide channel capacity to independent programmers. The commissioners voted to approve a Report and Order (R&O) and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) that would vacate the FCC's 2008 leased-access rules, adopt new ones that "reflect changes in the video programming market" as well as — and this is the sticking point for broadcasters — seek comment on whether the rules should still be in place at all.

In GOP Crosshairs

The majority of FCC commissioners — specifically Republicans Ajit Pai, the chairman, Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly — clearly signaled that they thought there were First Amendment implications given the FNPRM language they supported (see box).

The Democrats’ partial dissents were tied to that language and the suggestion that the leased-access rules could be an unconstitutional abridgment of speech, the issue the National Association of Broadcasters is concerned about.

Under the leased-access rules, cable operators with more than 100 channels have to set aside 15% of those channels for leased access, with smaller operators having to provide a smaller percentage.

Cable operators have said the rules are unconstitutional and should be .............

Full article here:


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