FCC Weighs In on Rule Challenge


The Federal Communications Commission didn’t ask the Supreme Court to review a lower court's remand of its media-ownership rules, and it would rather the justices didn’t hear industry appeals on the issue, either.

But, just in case the high court goes ahead anyway and takes the case, the commission has a few issues it wants considered.

On Wednesday, the FCC filed what is known as a “cross-petition” weighing in on legal challenges over media ownership rules. The petition is a special filing that allows the agency input on appeals by third parties.

In this case, the appeals seek review of a lower court decision this summer ordering the FCC to rewrite its June 2003 broadcast ownership deregulation.

The ruling was handed down by the federal appeals court in Philadelphia. The appeals were filed by media companies, industry trade groups, minority activists, and anti-consolidation advocates. The FCC told the court that the appeals, many of which challenge the FCC’s authority to set  numerical limits on broadcast ownership, do not warrant review because that authority has already been upheld in previous cases.

If the appeal is granted nevertheless, the FCC said the justices should rule that the lower court got a lot of things wrong.

Specifically, the FCC dismissed the lower court’s finding that the agency's method of weighting the market power of TV, radio, cable and newspaper outlets for the purposes of setting limits on cross-platform ownership was faulty.

The FCC also said the Philly court was wrong to minimize the impact of the Internet on media diversity. Finally, the FCC challenged the notion that it was arbitrary in drawing numerical limits on the number of broadcast properties that one owner can control in a market.