WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the government's restrictions on how regional Bell telephone companies provide sports scores, stock quotes and other electronic publishing services.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a 2-1 decision, rejected arguments made by BellSouth Corp. that the restrictions are unconstitutional.
BellSouth had argued that a provision of the 1996 Telecommunications Act requiring it and other Baby Bells to provide electronic publishing services through a separate subsidiary is an unconstitutional "bill of attainder," or punishment without a trial.
In a surprise ruling last Dec. 31, a federal judge in Texas--accepting that argument--tossed out key provisions of the 1996 law that govern how Baby Bells enter the long-distance business.
In that case, now being appealed, U.S. District Judge Joe Kendall ruled the provisions constitute a bill of attainder, punishing the Bells for the past anti-competitive sins of their onetime parent, AT&T Corp.
MCI Communications Corp. praised Friday's ruling, saying it will help the long-distance company in its efforts to reverse Kendall's decision.
BellSouth spokesman Bill McCloskey said the company is considering an appeal.