Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fed Court Won't Block FCC's UHF Discount Return

A federal court has allowed the FCC's reinstatement of the UHF discount to take effect, paving the way for deals like Sinclair/Tribune.

According to Broadcasting&Cable, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Thursday rejected the request for an emergency stay pending review of the underlying case and dissolved the June 1 administrative stay of the June 5 effective date of the discount's return.

The discount means that UHF TV station ownership only counts for half of the audience reach toward the 39% national ownership cap.

Free Press and others had argued that allowing the discount to go into effect before the court ruled on the underlying challenge would cause irreparable harm because deals like the Sinclair-Tribune merger—and others in the wings—would be allowed to proceed, though Sinclair had argued that it would only proceed to an FCC review, not guarantee the deal would be granted.

There is a high bar for granting such a stay, and the court said the petitioners had not cleared it.

"This is not very surprising, since stays are rarely granted," said Andrew Schwartzman, an attorney for the petitioners. "However, it is extremely disappointing. But the case is far from over, and we feel that we have a strong case once it is fully briefed and argued."

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