Philly judges to decide on rule stay

The federal appeals court in Philadelphia will hear oral argument Sept. 3 for
requests to stay the Federal Communications Commission’s new broadcast-ownership
rules, which are scheduled to take effect the next day.

Public advocacy groups have asked that implementation be postponed until the
court rules on their validity.

The FCC Wednesday urged the court to deny the stay petition on grounds that
the interest groups have not shown they are likely to prevail or that they will
be irreparably harmed if the rules are implemented now.

The groups "provide no basis for concluding that the rules exceed the
commission’s authority or represent arbitrary decisionmaking," the FCC said in
its court filing.

Letting the FCC’s relaxed ownership rules take effect while their validity
remains in question could cause chaos in the industry if the rules are later
struck down.

"As compared with the FCC, which has not even dignified repeated requests for
a stay with a response, the federal court recognized rules of this magnitude
should not necessarily go into effect while their legality is considered," said
Harold Feld, associate director of Media Access Project.

MAP represents Prometheus Radio Project, one of the groups seeking to have
the new rules thrown out.

Three of the four major broadcast networks, the National Association of
Broadcasters, the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance and Media General have
filed separate challenges to various portions of the rules.

The nets are seeking to have the case transferred to the appeals court in

Also Wednesday, the FCC endorsed the transfer request. The Washington court’s
jurisdiction over FCC licensing decisions, combined with its past ruling on FCC
ownership rules "make a persuasive case that the D.C. circuit would be the most
appropriate forum for this litigation."

The Philadelphia panel isn’t scheduled to rule on the transfer request until
the stay petition is decided.

The Philadelphia court chosen in a lottery among appeals courts that also
included New York, Washington and San Francisco, where various appeals of the
new FCC rules were filed.