Maine Appeals Injunction Against Cable Law

Maine Governor Janet Mills and Attorney General Aaron M. Frey have appealed the preliminary injunction against the state’s first-in-the-nation law regulating cable companies to the First Circuit. The state has asked that further proceedings in the court be stayed pending the appeal.

In January, Comcast was granted a preliminary injunction against Maine for state law H.P.606-L.D.832, “An Act to Expand Options for Consumers of Cable Television in Purchasing Individual Channels and Programs.” The law requires cable companies to allow subscribers to pick cable channels à la carte, instead of requiring a bundled purchase. Comcast and other cable companies argued the law violated their First Amendment rights because the new law burdens cable companies but not other non-cable providers. The relief was granted based on that First Amendment claim, blocking the enforcement of the law. Judge Nancy Torresen stated that the state had not shown that requiring an à la carte option would reduce prices and make the cable more affordable.

“While we certainly respect the lower court’s thoughtful decision, this issue merits appellate review,” Attorney General Frey said. “We continue to contend that the First Amendment does not give cable companies the right, as a business decision, to force customers to buy dozens of channels they don’t want just to get the two or three they actually watch. The First Amendment is about protecting freedom of expression, not protecting business strategies that harm consumers.”

A trial is set for August but is likely to be delayed by an appeal.