The battle between independent programmers and cable MSOs was referred to an administrative law judge back in October, based on the FCC’s predetermination that the programmers had a case. The ALJ had 60 days to give the FCC an advisory opinion on the matter; instead, the judge opened the case up to lengthy discovery proceedings at the request of the cable companies, stretching the matter well into 2009. The FCC has declared that in so doing, the ALJ overstepped his bounds, and that the 12/9/08 deadline set by the Commission stands. Since the ALJ has failed to meet it, the FCC is reeling the matter back in and turning it over to the Media Bureau.
RBR/TVBR observation: Involved are indy channels Wealth TV and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. The FCC felt they had legitimate gripes about unfair treatment, and now the FCC has the case back. This cannot be good news for cable operators.