Working for a Strong First Amendment
and Sound Communications Policy

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Cable TV

Cable Modem Service

Filed comments before the FCC urging the Commission not to take any regulatory action to mandate multiple ISP access for cable. A cable operator's choice of Internet service provider is content related, making it subject to strict scrutiny under the First Amendment, the comments said. A mandated access rule would fail both strict and intermediate scrutiny because the alleged "harm" to consumers -- that a single ISP restricts access to information -- is non-existent. The comments noted that the FCC's "ancillary authority" here was tenuous, and urged restraint given the constitutional implications. [2002] View the comments. HTML PDF

Digital Must Carry

Filed comments with the FCC on the question of whether cable operators should be required to carry multiple signals of digital TV broadcasters. The comments urged the Commission to pay special attention to the First Amendment implications of any digital must carry policy. The comments also noted that the Supreme Court's decisions in Turner I and Turner II were not necessarily a constitutional green light, owing to changes in the media environment and the characteristics of digital broadcasting.[1998]

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC

Filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court arguing that the must-carry provisions of the Cable Act of 1992, which compel cable operators to set aside channels for the carriage of local broadcasters, violate the First Amendment. [1993] The Supreme Court vacated and remanded the case because the government had not proven that broadcasters were threatened by real, rather than speculative, harm sufficient to outweigh the First Amendment burdens placed on cable operators. [1994]

Erie Telecommunications, Inc. v. City of Erie, Pa

Filed a brief with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals concerning the constitutionality of franchise requirements for public- access channels. The brief argued that mandated public-access channels are unconstitutional 'coerced speech.' [1987] The court held that the cable operator waived its constitutional rights in a prior settlement agreement and refused, therefore, to reach the constitutional issue. [1988]

Central Telecommunications, Inc. v. TCI Cablevision and TCI Cablevision v. Central Telecommunications, Inc.

Filed briefs before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and in support of a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court concerning the constitutionality of Jefferson City, Missouri's award of an exclusive cable franchise for that area. The briefs argued that the First Amendment precludes the granting of an exclusive cable franchise. The Eighth Circuit held that an exclusive franchise does not violate the First Amendment where the market could not support two cable companies and where competition for the exclusive franchise furthers First Amendment interests. [1986]

Must-Carry Rules I and II

Filed comments with the FCC concerning reconsideration of the cable must-carry rules after the D.C. Circuit Court's rejection in Quincy Cable Television v. FCC. [1985] The must-carry provisions were codified in the Cable Act of 1992 and were reviewed by the Supreme Court in Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC, discussed above.