Cablers’ supreme win

Court backs FCC's cable label

Cablers won’t have to open their broadband pipes to rival Internet service providers, according to a Supreme Court ruling issued Monday.

Decision promised the Federal Communications Commission broad discretion and sent lower courts a message: Think twice before second-guessing the FCC.

New FCC chairman Kevin Martin was, naturally, “pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the FCC’s ruling.”

“We can now move forward quickly to finalize regulations that will spur the deployment of broadband services for all Americans,” he said in a statement.

Ruling deals with how to classify cable transmissions, as information services — which means cablers won’t have to share their lines. Were they considered pure telecommunications services, they would.

In 2000, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that cable had elements of both. But the FCC dubbed cable transmissions strictly an information service, protecting operators. Santa Monica-based Internet service provider Brand X sued the FCC, and the Ninth Circuit Court backed the company — ruling that only Congress or the Supreme Court could reclassify cable as an information service. The FCC appealed, and the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the case in March.

Technically, the high court has only kicked the case back to the Ninth Circuit — but with clear marching orders. It said, “We think that the FCC was right, and what you did was wrong,” said a former FCC official. “It’s highly unlikely the Ninth Circuit will salvage its opinion. It will not slap the Supreme Court in the face.”

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a victory for consumers and maintains the momentum to advance broadband in the U.S. Classifying cable modem service as an interstate information service, as the FCC did, keeps this innovative service on the right deregulatory path,” said a statement from cable/telecom trade group NCTA.

Not so pleased: consumer advocates. The Washington, D.C.-based Center for Digital Democracy accused the court of paving “the way for a privatized, tightly controlled broadband environment that will bear little resemblance to the open, diverse and competitive Internet of the past.”

More Scene

  • HBO's 'SUCCESSION

    Why Brian Cox Says Wealthy Family Drama 'Succession' Is Both Timeless and Timely

    Cablers won’t have to open their broadband pipes to rival Internet service providers, according to a Supreme Court ruling issued Monday. Decision promised the Federal Communications Commission broad discretion and sent lower courts a message: Think twice before second-guessing the FCC. New FCC chairman Kevin Martin was, naturally, “pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has […]

  • Gracie Awards

    Rita Moreno Celebrates Female Empowerment at Gracie Awards: 'It's About Damn Time'

    Cablers won’t have to open their broadband pipes to rival Internet service providers, according to a Supreme Court ruling issued Monday. Decision promised the Federal Communications Commission broad discretion and sent lower courts a message: Think twice before second-guessing the FCC. New FCC chairman Kevin Martin was, naturally, “pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has […]

  • global women's rights awards

    Nina Shaw, Laura Dern Stress Importance of Intersectionality in Time’s Up Movement

    Cablers won’t have to open their broadband pipes to rival Internet service providers, according to a Supreme Court ruling issued Monday. Decision promised the Federal Communications Commission broad discretion and sent lower courts a message: Think twice before second-guessing the FCC. New FCC chairman Kevin Martin was, naturally, “pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has […]

  • 'A Kid Like Jake' film premiere

    'A Kid Like Jake': Jim Parsons, Claire Danes Talk Making 'Honest' and 'Relatable' Story About Young Trans Identity

    Cablers won’t have to open their broadband pipes to rival Internet service providers, according to a Supreme Court ruling issued Monday. Decision promised the Federal Communications Commission broad discretion and sent lower courts a message: Think twice before second-guessing the FCC. New FCC chairman Kevin Martin was, naturally, “pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has […]

  • 'The Tale' FYC event

    Laura Dern on Impact of 'The Tale' During #MeToo: 'There Is Restorative Justice Here'

    Cablers won’t have to open their broadband pipes to rival Internet service providers, according to a Supreme Court ruling issued Monday. Decision promised the Federal Communications Commission broad discretion and sent lower courts a message: Think twice before second-guessing the FCC. New FCC chairman Kevin Martin was, naturally, “pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has […]

  • LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:

    'Stranger Things' Team Offers Glimpses Into Season 3 at Netflix FYSee

    Cablers won’t have to open their broadband pipes to rival Internet service providers, according to a Supreme Court ruling issued Monday. Decision promised the Federal Communications Commission broad discretion and sent lower courts a message: Think twice before second-guessing the FCC. New FCC chairman Kevin Martin was, naturally, “pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has […]

  • 'Pose' TV show premiere

    Ryan Murphy Wants 'Pose' to Be 'Uplifting' for LGBTQ Community in Trump Era

    Cablers won’t have to open their broadband pipes to rival Internet service providers, according to a Supreme Court ruling issued Monday. Decision promised the Federal Communications Commission broad discretion and sent lower courts a message: Think twice before second-guessing the FCC. New FCC chairman Kevin Martin was, naturally, “pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content