SBD/1/Sports Media

SUPREME COURT RULES CABLE MUST CARRY LOCAL TV STATIONS

          "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).   

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