Court Upholds 'Home Field Advantage' for Cable Companies in the Battle Against Satellite TV

Satellite television often has a number of unseen hurdles and obstacles that is must navigate in order to reach the dish mounted on your roof.  Though people often think of storms, debris, signal interference, and other obstacles, satellite must also overcome market and legal hurdles, as well, as one recently decided case discusses. 

In the case of Florida Department of Revenue v. DIRECTV, Inc., 42 Fla. L. Weekly S455a (Fla., April 13, 2017), the satellite television provider DirecTV challenged a tax provision called the "Communications Services Tax," which charged a rate of almost eleven percent on satellite services compared to a rate of just under seven percent on cable services originally (currently, satellite services are charged almost double that of cable, with over nine percent for the former and less than five percent for latter).  

Understandably, DirecTV felt as though this law helped create an unfair playing field for the competing service providers.  It sought to have the tax invalidated under the requirement that "statutes that openly discriminate against out-of-state economic interests in order to protect in-state interests are subject to a per se rule of invalidity.” Simmons v. State, 944 So. 2d 317, 330 (Fla. 2006).  

However, despite what is arguably a clear cut case of discrimination in practical application, the Supreme Court of Florida held that the tax did not discriminate either facially, in its intent, or in its practical application.  The Court also found that, despite heavy investment in local and state-wide infrastructure, cable service providers were not an in-state interest for purposes of the challenge by DirecTV under the Commerce Clause. 

Many things in business which seem clear cut are not so clear under the law.  Having the advice and assistance of an experienced business attorney can not only help level the playing field for your business, but can often also help save a business a substantial amount of money in the long-run.  Contact the Business attorneys at Icard Merrill today for a consultation about your business rights.