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Court Rejects FAB Spectrum Auction Challenge

A D.C. federal appeals court has denied a challenge to the FCC's spectrum auction, saying it did not even warrant a published opinion because the challengers had no standing to bring the challenge.

In oral argument May 5, Free Access & Broadcast (FAB) Telemedia had spent much of its time trying to convince the court it had standing.

It does not own LPTVs but instead options to purchase the stations. The judges seemed to indicate at the time that FAB might fall under the shareholder exemption from being able to bring such a suit, but FAB argued that was a narrow exemption and should not extend to it.

In dismissing the FAB (and Word of God Fellowship) petition for review, the court said that it was not ruling on the merits of the challenge to the FCC's treatment of LPTV stations in the spectrum auction because FAB did not have standing and Word of God was not an aggrieved party.

"Free Access also cannot bring its claims. Free Access is not an LPTV station nor does it own any stake in an LPTV station," said the court.

It did spend some ink on explaining that because FAB's interest in the issue was directly tied to the fate of LPTVs, it was required to bring the suit on behalf of those stations, and, since it didn't, the court had no choice but to dismiss the petition.

"Because Free Access has not alleged an injury that is independent of the injury suffered by the LPTV stations in which it owns options, we dismiss the petition for review."

(Photo via walknboston's Flickr. Image taken on June, 28, 2015 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 3x4 aspect ratio.)

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.