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SUPREME COURT RULES CABLE MUST CARRY LOCAL TV STATIONS
Published April 1, 1997
"In a case affecting what television programming Americans receive," the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that cable systems can be forced to carry local broadcast TV stations, according to Joan Biskupic in the WASHINGTON POST. The decision upholds a federal law passed in '92 requiring cable TV operators to carry the signals of local commercial and public broadcast TV stations. The law was intended to "protect free over-the-air television broadcasting and especially smaller broadcasters that feared cable systems would shut them out completely" (WASHINGTON POST, 4/1). The decision rejected the cable industry's argument that the law was an "unconstitutional intrusion on cable operators' editorial autonomy, a form of Government-compelled speech that violates the First Amendment" (Linda Greenhouse, N.Y. TIMES, 4/1). USA TODAY's David Lieberman notes the "biggest beneficiaries" are low-power and UHF stations -- particularly those that feature foreign language, religious and home-shopping programming (USA TODAY, 4/1). The N.Y. POST's Jon Elsen notes the ruling is "bad news for programmers trying to expand their cable audience, such as" The Golf Channel and CNN/SI (N.Y. POST, 4/1).