Court postpones cable rereg challenge

A federal court here yesterday postponed oral arguments set for Dec. 7 on cable industry challenges to the new reregulation law.

Instead of oral arguments, the court has asked that lawyers for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate appear to discuss the case.

The postponement decision is a blow to cable industry hopes for a quick decision on key provisions in the cable bill, including whether the must-carry/retransmission consent portion of the legislation is constitutional. Cablers argue that both provisions violate their First Amendment right to free speech.

The postponement also seems to increase the possibility that a new Justice Dept. under the Clinton administration will argue the government’s case for the new cable law. The Bush administration Justice Dept. recently announced that it would not defend the law on grounds that it believes must-carry is unconstitutional.

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