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N.J. Agency: YES Bill Unconstitutional

2/26/2003 9:15 AM Eastern

A state agency has issued an opinion branding a pro-Yankees Entertainment
& Sports Network bill as unconstitutional, but the New Jersey legislature is
progressing on the measure anyway.

The bill stated that companies such as Cablevision Systems Corp., which own
sports and entertainment venues, that refuse to deal with unaffiliated program
suppliers, such as YES, could violate state antitrust law.

The bill was amended Feb. 24 to remove the language referring to sports- and
entertainment-venue ownership. The bill now targets cable companies with
investments in programming, whatever the source.

"The amendment makes it even more broad, more unconstitutional," said Karen
Alexander, president of the New Jersey Cable Telecommunications Association.

The industry is joined in its dissent by the state's Office of Legislative
Services, which issued a written opinion that the bill is pre-empted by federal
law and likely to be challenged in court on First Amendment grounds.

Despite the opinion, the bill was adopted as amended, and it is headed for a
vote of the full Assembly March 3, according to a state legislative
clerk.

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