FCC reinstates administrative law judge in program carriage disputes

The FCC reversed a Media Bureau decision Jan. 27 and will allow an administrative law judge to resolve program carriage disputes involving several different cable operators.

The move affects six separate disputes involving a variety of defendants, including Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Cox Communications and Comcast, and three organizations bringing complaints — Herring Broadcasting (WealthTV), NFL Enterprises and TCR Sports Broadcasting.

On Oct. 10, 2008, the Media Bureau referred the disputes to an administrative law judge in a Memorandum Opinion and Hearing Designation Order (HDO). Later the bureau assumed responsibility for the complaints when the HDO expired.

In its Jan. 27 order, the commission found that given the factual determinations needed to adjudicate the cases it is preferable to resolve the cases through hearings before an administrative law judge. The order reinstates the administrative law judge. It also directs the judge to reschedule the cases and issue recommended decisions and remedies, if any, to the commission as expeditiously as possible while still maintaining fairness and due process.

For more information, visit www.fcc.gov.