Federal appeals judges in Philadelphia dealt a blow to the big broadcast
networks late Monday by refusing to send a lawsuit challenging the Federal
Communications Commission’s relaxed media-ownership rules to a sibling court in
Washington, D.C., that is perceived as more friendly to the industry.
The Philly court will hear oral argument in the case Nov. 5.
By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the Federal Appeals Court for the U.S. Third
Circuit rejected the networks' argument that previous ownership cases have
familiarized the Washington court with the issues at stake and, therefore, make it
a more suitable venue.
"This court is no less qualified than any other Court of Appeals to determine
whether the FCC has appropriately considered the public interest in its decision
making," Judge Julio M. Fuentes wrote.
Officials from Fox, NBC and CBS, which sought the transfer, had no comment.
A public advocate fighting the FCC's rules praised the decision. "We
successfully argued that Congress did not intend that the D.C. Circuit should
have the exclusive control over all media-ownership issues," Media Access
Project president Andrew Schwartzman said.
MAP represents the Prometheus Radio Project of Philadelphia, the lead
petitioner against the new rules.
Chief Judge Anthony J. Scirica dissented.
Petitioners’ briefs are due Sept. 30, the FCC's opposition Oct. 15 and reply
briefs Oct. 22. Oral argument is scheduled for Nov. 5.