A bunch of cable companies including Comcast sued the state of Maine to block a recent law that would require an a la carte offering of cable. But a judge put the law on hold (via ArsTechnica).
Cable companies argued the law was invalid for two reasons: It pre-empts federal communications law, and it violates companies’ First Amendment rights. The victory scored by them means the law will be put on hold until the rest of the legal process finishes. District Judge Nancy Torresen granted [PDF] the injunction.
Judge Torresen ruled that the pre-emption argument wasn’t likely because the new law was written to be content=neutral. It requires cable companies to offer access to cable channels and programs individually and doesn’t stop them from serving any channel or program.
The First Amendment argument had two parts. The companies first argued they had a right to bundle, calling it “editorial discretion” like how a newspaper edits stories. But Judge Torresen said that argument didn’t work because they didn’t explain why their editorial discretion should extend to how they sell the bundles.
But the second argument did the trick. The cable companies said the law violated their rights because it applied “narrowly” to traditional cable carriers (MVPDs). The law didn’t apply to internet services like Dish Sling, Sony Vue, or YouTube TV.