Groups Say NAB Bigfoot(noted) Ownership Petition

A slew of backers of local ownership regs have told the FCC to throw out a broadcaster challenge to the FCC's decision to retain the limits on TV station ownership, citing an impermissible "font" of new information.

The National Association of Broadcasters and Nexstar had petitioned the FCC to review the decision, given that the new Republican leadership supported loosening the regs. The deadline for oppositions to that petition was Jan. 24.

In their collective opposition, The Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Media Alliance, National Organization for Women Foundation, Communications Workers of America, NABET/CWA, The News Guild/CWA, Common Cause, Benton Foundation,1 Media Council Hawai`i, Prometheus Radio Project, and Media Mobilizing Project said NAB's petition evaded the "strict 25-page limit on such petitions by using an impermissible "undersized" font for footnotes, then inserting their arguments into those notes.

"Thus, it is clear that if the Petition had been prepared in accordance with the Commission’s rules, the NAB Petition would far exceed the permissible limit of 25 pages," they said.

They take aim at the summary, which also has to be one to two pages, they argue, and is five, and also introduces new arguments not in the body of the petition rather than simply summarizing the filing.

But if the FCC does not dismiss it on those grounds--or, alternatively, grants the Nexstar petition, in a separate filing, the groups said there were three basic reasons to deny the petitions to reconsider: 1) It lacks authority to repeal or modify the rules until it assesses the impact on women and minorities, 2) Neither the NAB nor Nexstar have mentioned, or challenged that threshold determination; 3) NAB relied on some late-filed submissions.

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.