C-SPAN seeks to block Sky Angel discovery request

Online video distributor Sky Angel should not be allowed to subpoena documents and depose witnesses to investigate whether C-SPAN's board conspired to restrict access to C-SPAN programming, attorneys for the cable industry-backed public affairs network said in a brief filed with a federal court.

Sky Angel had sued C-SPAN on antitrust grounds, arguing that its board of cable operator executives had illegally ordered the network to drop Sky Angel as a distributor. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, but said Sky Angel could re-file if it could bring more evidence of wrongdoing forward.

But rules of procedure bar parties such as Sky Angel from conducting such investigations through the courts, C-SPAN's attorneys said. Without a pending complaint, a plaintiff cannot conduct discovery, they argued. "None of the very limited exceptions to this rule--for example, where a key witness is on his or her death bed and may not survive until the regular discovery period--apply to this case," they said.

Sky Angel has failed for years to get the courts and Federal Communications Commission to acknowledge it as a multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) with the same rights and obligations as cable operators and satellite providers. This antitrust litigation against C-SPAN marks its latest strategy to gain access to traditional cable programming.

For more:
- read C-SPAN's brief here (.pdf)

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