The Supreme Court yesterday heard arguments on whether all companies providing a cable TV-like service to apartments and condominiums are exempt from obtaining franchises from local municipalities.SMATVs are satellite master antenna TV services providing programming to apartment buildings in large cities without using a public right of way. In the 1984 Cable Act, Congress exempted some SMATV providers — those that serve condo associations or apartments with individual unit ownership — from the franchising process. However, the FCC claimed the ’84 bill required a franchise for a company providing SMATV to a group of apartment buildings with a single owner on the same block. That interpretation was overturned last June.
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