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FCC JSA Rule Challenge Oral Argument Set

The first week of December will be a busy one for media-related cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The court has just scheduled oral argument in broadcasters' challenge to the FCC's TV joint sales agreement (JSA) limitations and its inability to complete its quadrennial media ownership review--the 2014 review is scheduled to be completed next year.

The date is Dec. 3, the day before the same court--but perhaps not the same three-judge panel--the same court is scheduled to here oral argument in ISP's challenge to the FCC's Title II-based network neutrality rules.

In March 2014, the FCC voted to count most TV JSA's as ownership interests, which prevents new combos in markets where the sale half of a JSA already owns a station, and requires unwinding of existing deals.

The National Association of Broadcasters (along with Howard Stirk Holdings and Nexstar) briefed the court back in April.,

They argued that the FCC evaded its obligation by rolling the unfinished 2010 ownership review into a 2014 proceeding that won't be done until 2016. They argue the FCC had a statutory responsibility to make a decision on whether existing rules limiting station ownership were still necessary.

They also take issue with the FCC's decision as part of that review to make most TV joint sales agreements attributable as ownership interests, pointing out that while the FCC said it could not reach any decisions about existing rules, it managed to create a new ownership rule regarding JSA's.

The broadcasters also say the FCC refused to consider the public interest benefits of JSA's.