Federal Court strikes Henrico open access

The federal appeals court in Richmond last week struck down rules imposed by Henrico County, Va., requiring AT&T to open its broadband networks to competing Internet-service providers.

The court said municipalities don't have the authority to order open access and left the decision to the FCC "for the time being." A lower court threw out Henrico's rules in May 2000. Federal courts already have struck down open-access rules in Broward County, Fla., and Portland, Ore.

The Richmond ruling "offers the strongest judicial affirmation yet that public-policy decisions regarding cable-modem services are not within the jurisdiction of local governments," said Robert Sachs, president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Dishes get their due

A July 6 federal appeals court ruling preserves renters' right to install satellite dishes over the objections of building owners.

The Consumer Electronics Association, some of whose constituents make the hardware, and DBS companies, whose subscribers use it, were understandably pleased with the ruling.

Landlords, who lost the suit, were looking for a silver lining while making noises suggesting they would not appeal.

Matthew Ames, outside counsel for the Building Owners and Managers Association, said, "The ruling makes clear the intent of the law was to help TV 'viewers,'" Ames said. "The FCC's authority comes into question when it comes to other services."