A first-of-its-kind Maine law requiring cable companies to offer individual channel or program purchases was struck down on Wednesday by a federal appeals court in Boston.
Several cable companies sued the state over the 2019 law, arguing that forcing a la carte options violated their First Amendment rights and would be costly to implement. A Maine federal judge agreed that year, finding no evidence that the law would save customers money and that it was unlikely to succeed in court. U.S. Circuit Court Judges Sandra Lynch and Kermit Lipez affirmed the decision in a 23-page ruling issued Wednesday.
Maine had argued companies did not have the right to force customers to buy bundles of channels. But the state later admitted it during arguments about the preliminary injunction preventing Maine from enforcing the law that it did not have enough evidence to support the law if it faced constitutional scrutiny, according to the ruling.
The judges agreed to uphold the injunction, with Lipez writing that the Maine law “singled out” cable operators “while their competitors remain free to offer content in traditional tiers and packages.”
Attorney General Aaron Frey’s office declined comment, but the ruling is a blow to the state. The only remaining option for relief would be to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.