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Supreme Review for Comcast Suit

Jeff Baumgartner
6/26/2012

Here's what's pushing broadband's and cable's buttons today.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s appeal of a class-action lawsuit that seeks US$875 million over claims that the cable giant clustered systems in Philadelphia to monopolize the market, jack up cable prices and make it tough for competitive cable overbuilders such as RCN Corp. to break in. The suit was slated to go to trial in September in Philadelphia, but now the high court will determine whether a trial court may certify a case as a class action without first requiring the plaintiffs to present evidence that it deserves that status, notes the Philadelphia Inquirer, adding that the court's final decision could "set more stringent standards in class-action lawsuits." Comcast argues that customers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware don't have enough in common to sue as a group, adds Reuters.

  • The U.S. Department of Justice has added DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) and Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) to the list of companies it wants to question about contracts with programmers as part of a broader investigation that seeks to discover if cable operators and other incumbent pay-TV providers are using TV Everywhere policies and other business practices to hinder over-the-top video competition, reports Bloomberg. The probe, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, will also look into the use of broadband consumption caps. (See Is Cable Stifling OTT Video Competition? )

  • Pressure groups wasted little time reacting (badly) to Monday's spectrum swap and sale agreement between Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US Inc. , the latter of which had previously been critical of Verizon's Wireless's recent deals with a handful of major U.S. cable operators. Public Knowledge said Verizon's "need to buy off T-Mobile" to close its cable deals "underscores just how bad this deal really is for American consumers and competition generally." The Alliance for Broadband Competition also was less than complimentary, claiming that Monday's agreement "does nothing to mitigate the fact that Verizon and [c]able want to stop competing, stop investing, and stop innovating…" For their part, Verizon Wireless and its cable partners insist that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and the MSOs will continue to compete vigorously. (See VZ Wireless/T-Mobile Spectrum Deal Has a Catch.)

  • Shaw Communications Inc. is the latest major cable operator to join the Wireless Broadband Alliance, a group focused on next-gen Wi-Fi. The Canadian operator has been getting aggressive with Wi-Fi with tech partner Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) are also members of the organization. (See Shaw Scraps Cellular Plan.)

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



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