FCC appeals ruling on TV-ownership cap

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The Federal Communications Commission Friday asked the federal appeals
court in Washington, D.C., to review a decision ordering the agency to rethink the 35
percent cap on one company's television-household reach.

In February, a three-judge panel ruled
that the FCC failed to comply with a 1996 law requiring the agency to review
its rules every two years and to eliminate those that could no longer be
justified.

The judges ruled that the FCC failed to adequately examine whether the 35
percent cap was "necessary to serve the public interest."

FCC attorneys told the court Friday that the judges' standard was more
rigorous than needed to impose a new rule in the first place.

"This holding . imposes a substantial and continuing burden on the agency
that threatens administrative paralysis," they wrote in a request for rehearing
before the court's entire lineup.

The decision also fails to "explain what the commission must show in order to
conclude that a rule is 'necessary,'" FCC lawyers said.

Aside from the 35 percent cap, reversing the appeal is
critical to the agency because the biennial-review obligation would saddle the
agency with the impossible task of continually justifying every one of its
rules, agency officials said.

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