High Court Shoots Down ‘Must Carry’ Review

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied Cablevision’s request for a review of the rules that require cable operators to carry local broadcast TV stations on their systems, known as “must carry.”

Cablevision, Time Warner and others argued that the “must carry” rule Congress set in 1992 violated the cable systems’ First Amendment rights. Specifically, Cablevision of Long Island, N.Y., did not want to carry WRNN-TV in Kingston, N.Y., that airs home-shopping programming and some local news.

The rule prevents cable systems from picking and choosing which TV stations they want to clear.

Broadcasters cheered the court’s decision. Said Dennis Wharton, evp of the National Association of Broadcasters: “Today is a great day for the millions of Americans who rely on the diverse lineup of programming supplied by free and local broadcasters. By denying the cable-packed petition for review, the Supreme Court validates the NAB’s long-standing assertion that must-carry rules protect the public’s access to niche broadcast programming, including foreign language, religious and independent TV stations.”