A federal judge this week denied Time Warner and Discovery Communications’ bid to halt immediate implementation of key parts of the new cable law, but said the cablers will have ample opportunity to argue their case this spring.Decision from Judge Thomas Jackson of U.S. District Court here means the Federal Communications Commission will continue to carry out a rule-making proceeding designed to regulate rates on cable’s basic tier. The proceeding, ordered by Congress, also is aimed at guaranteeing cable’s competitors access to cable network programming. Time Warner and Discovery had asked Jackson to grant a preliminary injunction to immediately block the FCC’s carrying out rate regulation and program access sections of the cable law. In denying the request, judge said the cablers did not prove they will be subjected to immediate injury if the it was not granted. Jackson’s decision means that all of the cable industry’s suits against the new law will likely be heard in early March. Jackson will be the sole arbiter of whether the rate regulation and program access sections of the law withstand constitutional muster, while a three-judge panel that includes Jackson will decide the constitutionality of must-carry and retransmission consent. The court’s decisions are expected by April.
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