Court: San Jose OK in Comcast Proceeding

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Comcast Corp’s free-speech and other rights have not been violated by the city of San Jose, Calif., in its refranchising proceedings, according to a California federal court.

Magistrate Judge Richard Seeborg of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California refused to issue the preliminary injunction sought by Comcast in its dispute with the city. The parties are fighting over PEG-access (public, educational and government) and institutional-network requirements sought by the city as part of its refranchising terms.

The city had preliminarily denied a renewal, and the issue was before a hearing officer when Comcast filed the federal suit in September.

San Jose’s request for a renewal proposal is illegal because it demands services beyond the scope of the federal cable act, Comcast alleged to the court. Also, the proceeding violates the company’s First Amendment rights, and it would be irreparably harmed if the hearing process continued, the MSO added.

But in his Sept. 29 denial, Seeborg said San Jose is complying with renewal processes set in federal law, adding that Comcast’s suit is premature. Other renewal-related First Amendment cases in cable were litigated after cities had completed actions that curbed operators’ rights, the judge noted.

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