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Ninth Circuit rules cable channel packages not an antitrust violation

 |  April 1, 2012

A Ninth Circuit panel has ruled 3-0 that it is not an antitrust violation for cable companies to bundle channels in packages instead of allowing consumers to pick and choose between individual channels. Cable and satellite TV customers had brought suit against programmers such as NBC Universal and Walt Disney, as well as distributors like Comcast and DirecTV. The group alleged that programmers use their market power to require distributors to package channels as a mix between high-demand and low-demand channels, thereby harming competition among distributors.

Judge Sandra Ikuta likened the practice of bundling channels in a package to musicians selling songs on a full album. The panel pointed out that plaintiffs failed to allege harms such as exclusion of other sellers of low-demand channels, or increased entry barriers in the programming market. The court below had found that packaging channels does not necessarily harm competition.

Full content: SFGate


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