One Down: Court Denies FAB Auction Stay Request

It didn't take long. The U.S. Court of Appeals Wednesday (March 16) denied the request by FAB Et Al. for an emergency  stay of the March 29 auction start date, only hours after FAB filed its defense of the stay to the court.

IT was a victory for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who told Congress recently that he expected the auction to start on time.

FAB had asked the court to rule by March 28, but it only took it a few hours. The FCC filed its brief March 15

In a two-paragraph order--two short graphs at that--the court simply said that the motion was denied because "Petitioners have not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review."

The court is hearing oral argument on the LPTVs challenge to the auction on May 5, but wanted the court to stay the start of the auction in the meantime.  The court said no.

Among the tests for granting a stay are likelihood of winning the underlying appeal, as well as the harms a stay would cause a petitioners balanced against the harms of granting the stay.

That could bode well for the FCC in the two other stay requests, but each has a different fact set. It is still possible that the court could rule in May or June in favor of FAB's challenge, which would definitely put a crimp in the auction, or uphold one of the other two stay requests.

Latina Broadcasters is thought by many observers to be the FCC's toughest case, since the commission initially told the

LPTV owner it was eligible for the auction, and did not reverse that until Feb. 12, a month after the deadline for applying, which Latina did.

But Latina first asked the court to stay that FCC decision and allow it back into the auction, which if that were granted would arguably have the least impact on the FCC. Only if the court did not stay the FCC decision did Latina ask for a stay of the auction.

Videohouse asked only for a stay of the auction start date.

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.