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Comcast and Cable Giants sue Maine for law and force them to pay customers for certain channels

Comcast trucks parked in 2015 in front of a operations center in Westford, Massachusetts.
Photo: Tali Arbel (AP)

Comcast and a crowd of Bangor Daily News sue giants such as Fox, CBS, and Disney of the state of Maine and 17 municipalities over a recent bill requiring cable TV operators to give subscribers the ability to select the channels and programs you want to pay for this week.

The bill in question requires that "a cable operator should provide subscribers with the ability to individually acquire access to cable channels or programs on cable channels." According to Daily News, the bill was sponsored by Independent State Representative Jeff Evangelos and "largely party political" ; Democratic governor Janet Mills did not sign the bill, but incorporated it into the legislation. Comcast and the other companies are suing to prevent their implementation on 19 September on the grounds that it is exempted from federal law.

However, the Federal Communications Commission said in a letter to state officials that it sees the matter as unclear: [19659007] Evangelos defended the proposal by saying to WGME in March, "I want to see the Red Sox, but me I do not want to see [televangelist] Jimmy Swaggart, so I should not be forced to pay for it. "Comcast and Charter Communications argued that it was excluded from federal law.

Barry Hobbins, Maine's public attorney, noted that the vendors had successfully argued this in other debates in the past, but the Federal Communications Commission said in a letter to Hobbins whether the provincial law would be ruled out was "a question of the first impression ", and there were no Commission decisions dealing with the a la carte question.

Lawyers have also referred to an FCC statement saying, "There is no law that requires it." res (or forbids) to offer cable companies, channels or programs à la carte. "

The lawsuit filed by the US District Court late last week challenges the court to postpone and dismiss September 19 The Daily News wrote that the law was based solely on the Federal Reserve and the First Amendment was adopted. It is obvious why they adopt this attitude. Cable companies say that the bundling of program packages allows them to subsidize a variety of programs that would otherwise be too niche to survive. They have also argued that this represents a competitive disadvantage for streaming services and satellite television.

According to Ars Technica, the plaintiffs wrote in court documents: "Programmers often negotiate royalties with cable operators based on staggered shipments, and the elimination of such transport would force programmers to charge cable operators for higher royalties, which would ultimately be paid to the cable operators Subscribers would be passed on. "Ars Technica noted that the 17 communities are named because they have the authority to enforce state law, with the list" Maine "containing communities where Comcast has signed franchise agreements.

An Atlantic article in 2012 argued that the battle for pooling was actually a battle between streaming upstarts and cable television, the "most reliable and lucrative business model in modern entertainment history." Television in large quantities on premium channels It is essentially subsidized by other customers who are watching much less television. On the other hand, the Atlantic wrote, the Internet is "ruthlessly efficient in removing cross-subsidies and lighting up the content", as was the case in music and print journalism.

On the other hand Cable TV prices have skyrocketed in recent years as cable operators attempt to maintain the status quo, which, according to critics, only accelerates the demise of the bundle. (In some cases, cable Internet companies are also trying to force customers to buy TV packages to get faster connections.) As the Daily News noted, a survey by consulting firm West Monroe Partners in 2019 found that only 10 states cut cables faster than Maine.

"I filed this bill on behalf of Maine's hundreds of thousands of cable television subscribers," Evangelos said as he supported the bill. "For far too long, consumers have been forced to buy cable television programs that contain dozens of channels that consumers are not interested in."

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