Sunbelt wins $ 1 mil in cable case

A U.S. district court in Los Angeles has awarded Victorville broadcaster Sunbelt Television nearly $ 1 million in damages from Jones Intercable for the cabler’s refusal to carry its signal.

The court branded Jones’ refusal to carry indie TV station KHIZ-TV in its Antelope Valley region a “monopolistic” practice, and ordered the Colorado-based cabler to pay $ 996,750 in damages, plus attorney’s fees and costs, according to Sunbelt attorney Maxwell Blecher.

Under antitrust law, any damages awarded by a jury are tripled, so ultimately the judgment may be worth more than $ 3 million.

A Jones spokesman said the Englewood, Colo.-based MSO will appeal the decision. The verdict is “incorrect,” and Jones “does not believe that its actions violated antitrust laws,” the spokesman said.

Sunbelt had argued in a complaint that Jones had kept it out of the Palmdale-Lancaster advertising market with its refusal to carry the signal. Jones’ aim, it said, was to monopolize the local ad market.

Blecher believes that Judge William D. Keller will eventually order Jones to carry its signal.

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