Supreme Court Upholds FCC in Satellite TV Challenge

20 June 2002

US satellite-TV operators continue to be bound by the same rules for broadcasting local television channels as their cable counterparts, following a ruling earlier this week by the Supreme Court.

Both cable and satellite firms currently follow the Federal Communication Commission’s ‘carry-one, carry-all’ rule, whereby if they broadcast one local station, they must broadcast them all.

This regulation, designed to prevent less popular channels being dropped, was challenged by the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association, which argued that it violated free speech and that satellite operators should be able to choose which local stations they broadcast.

“There is no evidence whatever,” opined SBCA attorney Charles J Copper, “supporting the proposition that carry-one, carry-all will preserve even a single broadcast station that otherwise would go dark.”

However, the Supreme Court did not agree, ruling that the regulation was a “reasonable, content-neutral restriction on satellite carriers’ speech.”

Data sourced from: (USA); additional content by WARC staff