Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said Friday
that The Third Circuit ruling on the FCC's ownership rules puts an exclamation
point on the need to wrap up the commission's review of ownership regs per the
congressionally mandated quadrennial review.
"Now that the commission has some guidance from the
Third Circuit, it is all the more imperative that we move ahead with all
deliberate speed with our statutory obligation to review our media ownership
rules," he said in a statement to B&C/Multi. "The remands from
yesterday's decision can, and should, be taken care of in the course of that
review, and I would hope that our work would be conducted with deregulation in
mind, as section 202H requires." (That is the section of the
Communications Act that requires the FCC to review its rules to determine if
they are "necessary in the public interest as the result of competition.")
The court Thursday reinstated the broadcast-newspaper
cross-ownership ban on procedural grounds, saying the FCC had not given the
public enough time to comment on the decision to revise/loosen the ban, which
was announced in a New York Times op-ed piece by then FCC Chairman Kevin Martin
four weeks before the December 2007 vote. It also remanded back some of the
FCC's diversity initiatives, saying they did not do enough, but let stand the
decisions not to loosen TV duopoly or other ownership regs.
The court, which ruled on procedural grounds rather than
the merits of the change, pointed out that the FCC could remedy that notice and
comment issue on cross-ownership in its quadrennial review. In fact, the Third
Circuit in an earlier remand, identified lifting the cross-ownership ban
entirely, as former FCC Chairman Michael Powell had suggested, as one of the
deregulatory changes the FCC had made a case for.
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