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Sinclair to challenge duopoly rule

Sinclair Broadcasting told a federal appeals court Monday that it plans to challenge the FCC's "duopoly" rule barring one company from buying a second TV station in a market with fewer than eight independent stations remaining after the acquisition.

Sinclair said the FCC's eight-voice test advances does not advance any government interest that overrides Sinclair's free speech rights. Sinclair also argues that the regulation, which would force the company to divest of six of its 18 local marketing agreements, would result in an unconstitutional taking of property.

Sinclair decided to challenge the duopoly after the FCC in January upheld its August 1999 decision banning local marketing agreements that don't meet the voice test. Eliminating the voice test is also a goal of the Association for Local Television Stations and other stations groups such as LIN Television, Pegasus Broadcasting, Paxson Communications and Allbritton Communications.

So far, those groups have focused on changing the law through Congress rather than a court fight.
- Bill McConnell