Broadcasters Expected to Appeal Dereg Smackdown to Supremes

The broadcasters are coming! The broadcasters are coming! (probably). 

The National Association of Broadcasters is expected to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the Third Circuit's smackdown of the FCC's broadcast deregulation by the April 18 deadline, though it is unclear whether the FCC is joining in. 

The National Association of Broadcasters had not comment at press time, but a source familiar with the request says that in keeping with new social distancing, the National Association of Broadcasters has requested and gotten permission not to have to serve paper copies of a request for the court to hear an appeal, which certainly sounds like they will be filing.  

FCC spokesperson would only say "stay tuned."

NAB and the FCC teamed up to seek a full Third Circuit review of the three-judge panel decision throwing out much of the FCC's broadcast ownership deregulation order. The court declined that en banc review. At the time NAB said it was reviewing its options. Seeking cert from the Supreme Court is that last option for legal review.  

In September 2019, the Third Circuit threw out, or at least threw back to the FCC, some of chairman Ajit Pai's effort to deregulate broadcast ownership and address a lack of diversity. The court said the agency "did not adequately consider the effect its sweeping rule changes will have on ownership of broadcast media by women and racial minorities," something the court had said in a previous media ownership ruling that the FCC had to do next time around. 

The court vacated the FCC's elimination of the newspaper-broadcast and the radio-TV cross-ownership rules; it decision to allow dual station ownership in markets with fewer than eight independent voices after that duopoly created an opportunity for ownership of two of the top four stations in a market on a case-by-case basis (the FCC was not calling it a waiver); and its elimination of attribution of joint sales agreements as ownership," as well as its creation of a diversity incubator program. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.