Thursday, February 8, 2018

Fed Court Green Lights FCC Crossownership Rules

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has denied a petition from Prometheus Radio Project that it effectively stay the FCC's November vote to deregulate local broadcast ownership.

Broadcasting&Cable reports the court suggested the jury was still out on the FCC's response to the court's direction on ownership diversity and that Prometheus did not make a case for direct action from the court.

That court denial of the writ request means the FCC's decision to eliminate crossownership rules and loosen other local ownership restrictions goes into effect and could mean that Sinclair Broadcasting can keep more stations in the Tribune deal than under the old rules or if the court had granted the writ of mandamus Prometheus sought.

Prometheus had argued the FCC's deregulatory moves were undertaken without the vetting of their impact on media ownership diversity the court had required. The FCC said it had vetted that impact, including proposing an incubator program as part of the decision.

Longstanding opponents of the FCC's broadcast ownership rule decisions--under both Democratic and Republican Administrations--Prometheus asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to force the current FCC to address diversity issues that court has long told the commission to address, and delay any deregulation of local ownership rules until that happens.

The FCC under chairman Ajit Pai changed course from the commission of his predecessor, Tom Wheeler, and eliminated some local ownership rules--the newspaper/broadcast and radio/TV crossownership rules--and modified others.

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