It is a small victory, but it is a victory nonetheless:
The high court in 1997 upheld the 1992 law that obligates cable television companies to carry local broadcast stations. But Cablevision said circumstances have since changed and the monopolistic nature of the cable industry has been replaced by vigorous competition.
The justices rejected Cablevision’s appeal without any comment, siding with the FCC.
A U.S. appeals court in New York last year upheld the FCC’s decision to require Cablevision’s cable systems on Long Island to carry WRNN, a station from upstate New York that broadcasts mostly home-shopping programing.
Part of the bargain when cable companies came on the scene 40 years ago was that they would have to carry local television stations, because television is not just entertainment, but also a public service. (I know that’s difficult to believe; television seems to have turned into pubic service interrupted by murders and fantastically stupid (un)reality shows, but even today, when there is a blizzard or a flood, most persons turn to local television news to find out what’s going on.)
The fact that now many persons have choice between cable from a cable company, cable from a telephone company, and satellite television does nothing to reduce the possibility that any one or all of them might decide that carrying local programming costs too much.
In this case, one might say, “But a home-shopping station? Oh, come on.” But the issue is not the content of the station; the issue was local programming versus national programming.
We cannot depend on corporations to make decisions based on the public good.
If we could, no one would have ever heard of Glenn Beck. Just look around.