A legal challenge to the agreement on dual must-carry between the FCC and MSOs has been dismissed. The consequence of the dismissal is that after the digital transition, major cable providers will still have to carry both the analog and digital signals of must-carry stations or switch to all digital, as previously agreed.

Several networks, including C-SPAN, A&E Networks and the Weather Channel, filed the challenge.

An appellate court in Washington, D.C., rejected their suit on the grounds that plaintiffs had no legal standing, they are not party to the agreement, and they could not demonstrate how they might be harmed by that agreement. The decision noted that MSOs themselves are not challenging the legality of the agreement.

The petitioning companies argued that the dual must-carry scheme might lead some MSOs to re-allocate scarce bandwidth, and if they do so, they may have to drop networks to make room for the duplicate transmission of must-carry stations.

The court said that in order to consider the case, the networks had to demonstrate actual harm, or that harm was imminent – “not conjectural or hypothetical” – according to the court’s order (here), and the networks had done neither.

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