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Discovery files latest challenge to cable bill

Discovery Communications, the parent of the Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel, has filed a lawsuit challenging five parts of the recently enacted cable reregulation legislation on the grounds those sections are unconstitutional.

In a suit filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Discovery targets the provisions regarding rate regulation, vertically integrated programmers, must-carry, channel positioning and leased access.

Discovery is seeking a declaratory judgment that the five provisions being challenged violate the First Amendment and an injunction that would prevent the United States and the FCC from enforcing those parts of the cable legislation.

“We are determined to thwart this ill-conceived piece of legislation which would do irreparable harm not only to our company, but also to the entire cable industry,” said John Hendricks, the company’s chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Discovery’s suit maintains that the rate regulation aspects will distort cable programming choices by limiting the quality of current offerings and the development of new services.

The vertical integration portion, according to the suit, is “overbroad” and ignores the fact that cable operators have been the catalyst for the development of new services. Moreover, the suit points out that without operator involvement , Discovery would not exist.

Discovery claims that the must-carry, channel positioning and leased-access segments of the bill, when taken separately or as a whole, violate the First Amendment by targeting cable with burdensome regulations, forcing speech, favoring one class of speakers over another, encroaching on editorial judgment and imposing the government’s view of diversity.

Discovery is the latest cable network to attack the cable legislation through the courts.

Turner Broadcasting filed a suit earlier which has been backed by a number of cable networks and cable pioneer Bill Daniels has also filed a suit.

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