FCC's Pai Praises Court's Latina Broadcasters Stay Decision

FCC commissioner Ajit Pai Friday cited a federal court's stay of the FCC's decision that Latina Broadcasters was not eligible for the incentive auction as the latest in a series of "interventions" in FCC decisions that suggests it "lacks respect for the rule of law."

Pai had been critical of, and dissented from, the FCC's decision excluding Latina. He said Friday he was pleased the court had stepped in to provide "badly needed judicial review."

Latina is provisionally back in the auction, the FCC said Friday.

But Pai wasn't done. He tied that court decision to the same court's stay last week of part of the FCC's decision limiting prison phone rates, as well as a letter from a dozen senators from both parties last week saying the FCC had bypassed the law by requiring Joint Sales Agreements (JSAs) to be unwound in deal reviews even though Congress passed a law in December grandfathering JSAs in existence before March 2014 (the FCC says it has for 30 years treated license transfers as the issuance of new licenses, and attendant JSAs thus new JSAs).

Pai said that given that "the courts and Congress have felt compelled to intervene in these ways suggests the agency lacks respect for the rule of law, "[t]he message is clear: The Commission needs to follow the law and return to the tradition of bipartisan, collaborative decision-making."

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.