Appeals of Media Ownership Rules Sent Back to Philly Court

Nov 4, 2008  •  Post A Comment

An appeal of the Federal Communications Commission’s media ownership changes is heading back to the Philadelphia appeals court that overturned the FCC’s last attempt to ease its rules.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today consolidated various appeals of the ownership action filed by broadcasters, newspaper groups and consumer groups and transferred all the cases to the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia.
In the process the court rejected an attempt to move the cases instead to the District of Columbia Circuit, a circuit that generally had been more favorable to broadcasters.
In December, the FCC eased media ownership rules in a way that would allow newspapers and broadcasters in a market to more easily buy each other. The rules change would generally allow the purchases in top markets and generally disallow them in lesser markets, but grants the FCC the ability to easily make exceptions.
Consumer groups have challenged the rule change, arguing it allows too much consolidation, while media companies have challenged it, saying the FCC didn’t go far enough and didn’t recognize changes in the industry.
A divided three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit in February 2005 set aside former FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s attempt to dramatically ease media ownership rules. The proposal that was set aside would have allowed a single company to own three TV stations, eight radio stations, the local newspaper and the local cable provider.
The panel questioned the suitability of the numbers the FCC used to justify consolidation in a local market.

One Comment

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