Cable companies want judge to pause new Maine law requiring à la carte channel choices

Press Herald | 11/2/2019 | Staff
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A Maine federal judge is deciding whether to put a temporary hold on a first-in-the-nation law that requires cable companies to offer channels on an à la carte basis, a case that pits consumer choice against corporate control.

Federal District Court Judge Nancy Torreson did not indicate when she might rule on the request for a temporary restraining order sought by the Comcast cable company and nine cable broadcasters, including Disney, Fox Cable and NBC/Universal. The cable company and broadcasters sued the state and more than a dozen towns and cities in September over the new state law, which would require cable operators to allow customers to pick and pay for channels they receive on an individual basis.

Companies - Channels - Packages - Critics - Forces

Cable companies generally offer channels in bundled packages, and critics say that forces consumers to pay for channels they’re not interested in watching in order to receive the channels they do want.

The à la carte cable law was passed by the Legislature earlier this year and took effect in September. It would likely have to be enforced by individual towns and cities, because the cable companies have franchise agreements with municipalities. But the state has indicated it would hold off pushing for enforcement until the lawsuit is settled.

Restraining - Order - Enforcement - Law - Order

A restraining order would formally block enforcement of the law as long as the order remains in effect.

If the law is upheld, Maine would become the first state in the country to require à la carte cable selections. That would explain the phalanx of lawyers sitting in Portland’s federal courtroom Friday when the measure came before Torreson. Ten companies have signed on as intervenors or offered friends of the court briefs in the Comcast case.

Lawyer - Comcast - Torreson - Friday - Law

A lawyer representing Comcast told Torreson on Friday that the law would limit choices and lead to higher prices for consumers. Matthew Brill...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Press Herald
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