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Public Knowledge Files Brief Supporting Consumer Access to PEG Channels in Maine

September 23, 2020 , ,
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Today, Public Knowledge filed an amicus brief at the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of The Internet and Television Association (NCTA) v. Frey. Maine law requires cable operators to place public educational and government channels (PEG) in their basic cable tier and on lower channels in the vicinity of broadcast stations. The law also requires cable operators to include channels in program guides and retransmit any HD channels in HD for the public. Maine also required operators to “extend cable service to areas that have a population density of at least 15 residences per linear strand mile.” NCTA attempted to have the law overturned in the District Court. When the District Court rejected their arguments, NCTA appealed.

In its brief, Public Knowledge argues that Maine’s law is not preempted by any federal law, statute, or policy. Furthermore, Maine has an interest in ensuring that its residents have access to quality news and information, which include both PEG channels and cable service more generally.

The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:

“Maine has a strong government interest in regulating the placement and promotion of public, educational, and government channel capacity, and in ensuring that cable companies serve their whole communities. Cable companies have put forward novel theories that try to strip state governments of powers they have always had, and the First Circuit should reject them just as the district court did.

“This case is in keeping with the attempts of internet service providers and cable companies to reject traditional state public interest regulation. For example, in another case, Maine recently defeated an effort by ISPs to argue that the absence of federal law regulating broadband privacy practices should be construed to preempt the states from regulating in that area. ISPs are also suing California over its state ‘Open Internet’ law. It is important to stand up for the right of states to protect their residents from unfair practices by cable and broadband companies.”

You may view the amicus brief for more information.