Ninth Circuit Court Gets Appeal of Cross-Ownership Rules

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to Hear Consolidated Appeal of Federal Communications Commission's Decision Dec. 18 to Loosen Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rules

A panel of judges picked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to hear a consolidated appeal of the Federal Communications Commission's Dec. 18 decision to loosen newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules.

The rules have been challenged as too deregulatory by anti-consolidation activists and as not sufficiently deregulatory by broadcasters.

More than one-dozen broadcasters sought a hearing in the D.C. Circuit, hoping for a more deregulation-friendly panel than, say, the Third Circuit, which remanded the FCC's 2003 deregulatory ownership-rule rewrite, as well as the First, Third, Sixth and Ninth Circuits (the Media Alliance filed in the Ninth), but they would likely choose the Third if they had to pick one.

According to a letter from the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation Tuesday obtained by B&C, the judges who hold a lottery to determine where the case should be held when there are filings in multiple circuits informed one of the parties that "the panel has randomly selected the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in which to consolidate these petitions."

Now that the court consolidated the cases there, a lawyer involved in the filings said he expected the broadcasters to file a motion to transfer the case to the D.C. Circuit. Activists are also likely to ask for a motion to transfer to the Third Circuit.

In effect that request has already been made. In filing its petition, the Media Alliance also filed for a change of venue to the Third Circuit. Media Access Project President Andrew Schwartzman thinks that is where the case will ultimately wind up.