Facts of the Case:
In 1992, Congress passed the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992. Sections 4 and 5 of this Act required cable systems to allocate a percentage of their channels to local public broadcast stations, the must-carry rules. The rules limit the cannels available for exclusive control by cable programmers and increase competition for the remaining channels.
Are the must-carry rules content-based and thus a violation of the cable companies' First Amendment right to free speech?
No. The Court held that the must-carry provisions were content neutral, thus not a violation of the First Amendment. The rules were not determined by the programming content, but by broadcast method. The rules promote fair competition in television programming. Congress recognized that the public television stations had an intrinsic value to the American public and were in economic peril of disappearing due to the cable television industry's monopoly. The rules do not force the cable companies to alter their message.