NEW YORK — A federal appeals court Thursday upheld an injunction that prevents New York City officials from pushing the Fox News Channel onto the city’s cable system, handing Time Warner Inc. another victory in its bitter battle with Fox News parent News Corp.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the preliminary injunction imposed on the city by a lower court was justified because Time Warner had shown a probability of ultimate success in its claim that the city was violating its franchise agreement with the company.
Time Warner holds the franchise for New York’s cable system and has steadfastly refused to allow Fox News a spot on it. City officials, acting at Fox’s behest, tried to push Fox News onto the cable system last fall by putting Fox, as well as Bloomberg Information Television, onto the system’s city-controlled noncommercial channels. Time Warner sued, arguing that the city was forcing it to carry a channel it didn’t want to carry, and a federal district judge issued the injunction, saying the company’s First Amendment rights were being violated.
The appeals court, however, upheld the injunction on narrower grounds, and said it was uncertain whether there was a First Amendment violation. Instead, the court said it was upholding the injunction merely because ”the mix of programming carried on (Time Warner’s) cable system (was) altered in ways that could not be adequately remedied after the fact.”
Attorneys for the city and for News Corp. had no immediate comment. Attorneys for Time Warner and Bloomberg could not be reached for comment.