Court tells cable to release programming

A federal appeals court has told cable to close a terrestrial loophole it's been using to withhold some programming from its competition. The U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C. squashed opposition from Comcast and Cablevision to an FCC edict that would finally open up local sports and other programming to satellite and telco competitors.

Cable operators had been using a so-called "terrestrial loophole" in the 1992 cable act to circumvent rules that mandate sharing programming with the competition. The loophole let operators restrict programming that was not beamed to satellite so if cable systems moved content via microwave, fiber or other terrestrial means it could block access by satellite and telco competitors. In January the FCC said the loophole should close.

As expected, Verizon and DirecTV hailed the court's decision with Verizon saying it "protects consumers' ability to view the programs they demand as they gain new choices among video providers." Comcast said it was "disappointed" and Cablevision said the rules are "based on an outdated and obsolete view of the competitive landscape."

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