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Frank StantonFrank Stanton
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broadcasters and licensees of stations--and, it followed, networks as well--could not own and operate cable systems in the areas they served. For television stations they simply meant they could invest in cable in some other market but not in their own market. For the networks it just took them out of the business. We were in the cable business in California and in Canada, but Canada didn't come under the FCC regulation.

The FCC also said that networks could not be in the syndication business of entertainment programs. They could do it for news but not for entertainment. So this meant that programs such as we were producing then could not be--we could not continue to produce them, and any programs that we bought, we could not resell on a syndication basis. An unpleasant--an unfortunate, I thought, decision on the part of the commission, but at any rate that's the way it was.

We, CBS, at that time had earlier taken the position that we had some rights in the cable field, because we didn't--I didn't feel and some of my colleagues agreed with me [and] didn't feel that our programs should be taken by a cable operator and sold as a service. That, after all, it was our programming, and if he wanted to sell it, then he had to pay us some kind of a rights fee.

We made a test case in the courts on that, in connection with some public affairs programming, and we lost in the lower courts, and I think appealed it and lost in the next court.


Could you just say a bit about what the case was about?

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