Why Comcast and Disney are suing to block Maine’s new TV law

Several television networks—including CBS, Comcast, Disney, Viacom, and Fox—filed a complaint in United States District Court in Maine to halt a new law requiring cable companies to allow TV channels for à la carte purchase, Cord Cutters News reports.

The networks aim to challenge the state law, named “An Act To Expand Options for Consumers of Cable Television in Purchasing Individual Channels and Programs.” They claim the First Amendment and federal law preempt it and are seeking an immediate injunction.

“I submitted this bill on behalf of Maine’s hundreds of thousands of cable television subscribers,” Representative Jeffrey Evangelos (I) stated in testimony. “For far too long, consumers have been forced to purchase cable TV packages which include dozens of channels the consumer has no interest in watching.”

Set to take effect on Sept. 19, the laws states that “a cable system operator shall offer subscribers the option of purchasing access to cable channels, or programs on cable channels, individually.” 

Per the lawsuit, the companies cite possible advertising losses and claim service tiering and network bundling exhibited “the exercise of First Amendment rights—both by the programmers who decide how to license their programming to cable operators and by the cable operators who decide how to provide that programming to the public.”

Furthermore, the complaint asserts that “an array of federal statutory provisions precludes Maine from dictating how cable programming is presented to consumers.”

It makes sense that networks would bristle at the new law. As cable TV subscribers continue their mass exodus to streaming services, many channels would likely fail if customers had the option to pick and choose which channels to purchase. With DirecTV Now, Comcast, and Spectrum posting six-figure subscribers losses in the second quarter of 2019, it makes sense that they take every preventative measure to retain their customers.

READ MORE:

H/T Cord Cutters News

Kahron Spearman

Kahron Spearman

Kahron Spearman is a music and film critic whose work can also regularly be regularly found in the Austin Chronicle.