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Appeals Court Strikes Down Maine's First-In-Nation Cable Law

Associated Press
This Jan. 24, 2019, file photo shows a Comcast truck in Pittsburgh.

A federal appeals court has struck down Maine's first-in-the nation law requiring cable providers to let consumers choose the individual channels they want to pay for, following legal challenges from Comcast and several television networks on grounds including the First Amendment.

State Rep. Jeffery Evangelos of Friendship championed the so-called "a-la-carte cable" law. He says it was intended to ease the burden on senior citizens and others on fixed incomes who are forced to pay for a bundle of unwanted channels just so they can watch a game.   

"It costs a hundred dollars a month to be able to watch the Red Sox. So let me get this straight, you fought in World War II but you can't afford to watch baseball anymore? It's the theater of the absurd," Evangelos says. 

Representatives of the cable providers could not be reached for comment, but they have argued that the constitution protects their right to make editorial decisions about what content they provide. 

Evangelos says state Attorney General Aaron Frey should appeal the decision. Frey's office says he is reviewing it.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.