FCC opposes court intervention in fee dispute


GavelA number of entities and individuals seeking refunds of filing fees tied to CP auctions have requested intervention by the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit. The FCC says such intervention would be inappropriate.

The dispute involves Legacy Communications, LLC, Julie Epperson, JAB Broadcasting, LLC, Bott Communications, Inc., E-String Wireless, Ltd., Horizon Christian Fellowship, Independence Media Holdings, LLC, Delta Management Corporation, Airen Broadcasting Company, Mattox Broadcasting, Inc., Absolute Communications, LLC, Programmers Broadcasting, Inc., Tri-State Radio, LLC and William C. Doleman
The FCC, at staff level, cited long-standing precedent and evidence that the parties were fully aware of the rules in turning down their refund requests.

The parties are appealing through normal FCC channels and requesting commission-level review, but also filed with the District Circuit for a writ o mandamus 1/18/13 seeking immediate favorable action for two major reasons, the Court should stay out of the matter.

First, a writ of mandamus is a “drastic” measure for use in “extraordinary” circumstances. The FCC says this dispute does not rise to this level. Indeed, the parties are in fact making use of FCC procedures to appeal the decision. The fact that they have not exhausted their regulatory recourse means there is no need for any drastic action by the court.

Second, the FCC says the parties are essentially asking for court review of an FCC staff decision, and cite the Communications Act as evidence that the court lacks jurisdiction for this.

In closing, the FCC notes that there is no clear and indisputable evidence that the parties will eventually prevail on the merits, another reason for the Court to remain on the sidelines at this point of the dispute.