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NAB Says Local Combos Serve Public

As first reported by B&C, NAB Monday evening filed a petition with the Supreme Court to appeal a lower court's decision leaving most of the FCC's media ownership rules intact, including local TV and radio station caps. NAB says local co-ownership is good for business and the public.

NAB argues that the High Court needs to reconcile what it says is a split between the D.C. and Third Circuits. The former in 2002 found the FCC's local station ownership caps arbitrary and capricious in ruling that the FCC had not justified disregarding the impact of non-broadcast media -- like the Internet -- when imposing station ownership limits. The Third circuit later upheld the FCC's decision to readopt the same limit that the D.C. Circuit had disapproved.

"Accordingly, there is now a split of authority between the D.C. Circuit and the Third Circuit," said NAB. "Moreover, because the Third Circuit's rule will govern the television industry nationwide at least until the completion of the next quadrennial review, the Third Circuit has, in effect, overruled the D.C. Circuit, which is the prerogative solely of this Court."

NAB suggests that the Third Circuit decision leaving the local caps in place is a clear and present danger to the future of the medium. "By preventing local television stations from forming more efficient ownership structures, the duopoly rule threatens many local stations' viability," NAB argues. "By harming local television stations all over the country, the duopoly rule also directly harms the public. When a station struggles financially or ceases to operate, it loses its ability to provide the news and public affairs programming on which members of the public rely."

NAB also says the Third Circuit is improperly asserting jurisdiction over the media ownership proceedings. "Third Circuit panel's attempted retention of jurisdiction does not in any way obviate the need for this Court's review and resolution of the split between the Third Circuit and the D.C. Circuit," said NAB.