B’casters urge court to uphold must-carry

Broadcast trade organizations Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a lower court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of a law requiring cable operators to carry most TV stations.

In a 2-1 decision, the “must-carry” provision of the 1992 Cable Act was declared constitutional by a special three-judge panel in D.C. earlier this year.

The ruling came despite the fact that courts twice previously had declared similar must-carry regulations adopted by the Federal Communications Commission to be in violation of the free-speech rights of cable operators.

The cable industry has asked the Supreme Court to settle the constitutionality of must-carry once and for all. However, broadcast lobbying groups Tuesday urged the high court to simply affirm the lower court decision.

The National Assn. of Broadcasters, the Assn. of Independent Television Stations and America’s Public Television Stations participated in the legal filing.

Despite the filing, industry watchers expect the Supreme Court to review the case on its own. A date for oral arguments is expected to be set sometime after the high court returns to work Oct. 4.

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