FCC asks court to continue cross-ownership stall


Former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s attempt to loosen broadcast/print cross-ownership regs has predictably been stalled in court. The Julius Genachowski FCC has asked the Third Circuit Court to keep the case in abeyance pending reconsideration in the upcoming quadrennial review.

The Third Circuit in Philadelphia had asked the FCC what it planned to do about the challenges to Martin’s rulemaking attempt.

The two results of Martin’s December 2008 rulemaking were to allow cross-owned combos in the top 20 Nielsen DMAs (and to permanently grandfather other existing combinations), and to leave other broadcast ownership rules intact.

The FCC points out that these and other regulations are all being studied as part of the 2010 quadrennial review, and that it would be duplicative to deal with the issues in two separate proceedings, and counterproductive to “second guess” the intent of the Martin FCC.

General Counsel Austin C. Schlick pointed out that only two of the current Commissioners were serving with the FCC at the time of the December 2008 decision, and that one of them – Michael Copps – was a dissenter.

The FCC asked that if the court prefers not to hold the matter in abeyance, that it remand the matter so that it may be reconsidered in conjunction with the quadrennial review.

RBR-TVBR observation: It would make sense to finally and at long last issue an open-ended waiver for existing cross-owned combinations that is tied to the ultimate resolution of that particular issue.