Supremes: No Action on Indecency or Media Ownership Challenge

Broadcasters await decision on what they can say, and on how many stations
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It was a "no decision" day Monday in the Supreme
Court, at least in terms of two cases closely watched by broadcasters.

The court released opinions and a list of cases it had
agreed to or declined to hear, but that list did not include a decision on its
review of FCC indecency regs, or on whether or not to hear a broadcaster
challenge to media ownership rules.

The indecency case, Fox vs. FCC, is the government's
challenge to a Second Circuit court ruling that the FCC's indecency findings
against swearing on a Fox awards show and ABC's NYPD Blue and the FCC's indecency enforcement policy in general
were unconstitutionally vague. The oral argument was before eight Justices,
with Justice Sonia Sotomayor recusing herself as a former member of the Second
Circuit appeals court whose ruling is at issue, though she was not part of the
panel that rendered the decision.

The High Court has also been asked to overturn a Third Circuit
Court of Appeals ruling last July on media ownership regs. The Third Circuit
upheld the FCC's 2008 decision not to loosen the TV duopoly, radio ownership or
TV/radio cross-ownership rules, but vacated the FCC's loosening of the
broadcast/newspaper cross-ownership rule, saying it had failed to meet notice
and comment requirements.

They are actually considering three appeals of the Third
Circuit Court of Appeals ruling. The National Association of Broadcasters
sought appeal on the grounds that there was a split in the circuits, while
Tribune (joined by Fox, Sinclair, Clear Channel, Bonneville and the Newspaper
Association of America) and Media General challenged on constitutional grounds
in separate petitions.

Scotusblog.com, which follows and analyzes the orders and
decisions, said it was not expecting any more such releases out of the court
this week.

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