D.C. Court Gets Latest FCC Media Ownership Appeal

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear broadcasters' and others' challenge to the FCC's latest variation on media ownership rules, the quadrennial media ownership review that was released Aug. 25. Or at least that is the initial call.

The Third Circuit has been the venue for previous media ownership challenges, but D.C. has won the lottery, which is held when an appeal has been filed in more than one circuit and the cases need to be consolidated into one court.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which held the lottery, informed lawyers Thursday that the panel had randomly selected the D.C. circuit.

Broadcasters and newspaper owners had appealed to the D.C. circuit—the court with jurisdiction over FCC appeals—while Prometheus, which launched the original appeal of an FCC ownership rule deregulatory remake of over a dozen years ago in the Third Circuit, had filed in the Third, which had issued the most recent remand of an ownership rules decision—the FCC decision to tighten joint sales agreements rules before having finished its congressionally mandated quadrennial rule review.

Broadcasters are challenging the rule because they say the FCC has insufficiently deregulated the industry, while Prometheus thinks the FCC was overly deregulatory.

Both the National Association of Broadcasters and the News Media Alliance (newspapers) have said they would not oppose a transfer to the Third Circuit, so if Prometheus files for that transfer, the case could well wind up back in the Third Circuit after all.

The three cases being consolidated are Prometheus vs. FCC. NAB vs. FCC and News Media Alliance vs. FCC.

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.