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Monday, October 14, 2019

Fox, Disney and others challenge Maine's a la carte cable law

Federal Court

By Carrie Bradon | Sep 18, 2019


PORTLAND, Maine (Legal Newsline) — A group of cable and video program providers has filed a lawsuit against Maine's a la carte cable law over allegations it violates its constitutional rights.

Comcast of Maine/New Hampshire Inc., A&E Television Networks LLC, C-Span, CBS Corp., Discovery Inc., Disney Enterprises Inc., Fox Cable Network Services LLC, NBC Universal Media LLC, New England Sports Network LP and Viacom Inc. filed a complaint on Sept. 6 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine against Maine Gov. Janet Mills, Maine Attorney General Aaron Fray and several cities and towns in the state, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.

The plaintiffs are challenging a Maine regulation known as An Act to Expand Options for Consumers of Cable Television in Purchasing Individual Channels and Programs. The regulation mandates that "[n]otwithstanding any provision in a franchise, a cable system operator shall offer subscribers the option of purchasing access to cable channels, or programs on cable channels, individually," the suit states.

The plaintiffs allege the law infringes on their First Amendment protections and that it is preempted by the Communications Act of 1934, "which prohibit(s) municipalities functioning as local franchising authorities."

"Maine’s effort to foist an 'à la carte' regime on these industry participants not only is unlawful, but would end up causing the very harms it seeks to avoid—namely, higher costs and reduced programming choice," the suit states.

The plaintiffs are seeking declaratory judgment against the defendants, attorneys' fees, court costs and just relief. The plaintiffs are represented by Joshua A. Tardy and Joshua A. Randlett of Rudman Winchell in Bangor, Matthew A. Brill and Mathew T. Murchison of Latham & Watkins LLP in Washington, D.C. and David P. Murray and Michael D. Hurwitz of Wilkie, Farr & Gallagher in Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Court for the District of Maine case number 1:19-CV-00410

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U.S. District Court for the District of Maine

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