Home » News » Cable companies win lawsuit over Maine’s a la carte law

By The Associated Press, published on March 1, 2021

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AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected Maine’s law requiring cable companies to give subscribers the option of purchasing access to individual cable channels rather than bundled packages.

 

A federal judge had already delayed the law from going into effect in 2019, and the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston agreed on Feb. 24 that the law raises constitutional concerns.

 

Comcast, joined by Disney, Fox Cable and NBC/Universal, Fox Cable and others, sued the state over the law.

 

The appeals court noted that state acknowledged there’s an insufficient record to justify that the law could withstand muster when it came to First Amendment arguments raised by the cable companies. Cable companies contended they were unfairly singled out, among other things.
Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey had no immediate comment on the ruling.

 

Comcast contended the law would mean limited choices and higher prices than the current packages it offers to consumers.

 

It argued it would have been forced to overhaul ordering, distribution and billing systems along with providing new digital cable boxes to many customers. It also contended it would have had to renegotiate contracts with programmers and content providers.

 

The law was adopted in response to consumer frustration over the growing cost of cable TV packages.

 

Independent Rep. Jeff Evangelos, the bill’s sponsor, said TV viewers complain about paying for unwanted channels. The Democratic-controlled Legislature passed the law largely on party lines.

 

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