One of the most perplexing issues facing civil servants in Washington is advancing the goal of diversity in the face of a legal system that refuses to recognize any possible definition of what a licensee need to be to be considered an “eligible entity” that may benefit from diversity-encouraging policy. The Third Circuit seemed to think the current definition is too broad and sent it back on remand. The result – stations that haven’t already been issued a final order for an extension will not get them and those pending but not final will be dismissed. CPs that aren’t built by the original date are gone.
The FCC will take up the definition of an eligible entity once again as part of its quadrennial review. Despite the fact that we are over half way through 2011, that’s the 2010 quadrennial review to which we refer.
The FCC said of non-final extension grants, “This category includes all assignment application grants that are not final … when the Court issues its mandate. In all such cases, a construction permit extended pursuant to an application grant will revert back to its original expiration date. The staff will rescind those application grants and dismiss the assignment applications where the construction permit expired prior to application grant. In all cases in which construction was not completed prior to the original construction permit expiration date, the construction permit is automatically forfeited upon expiration without any further affirmative cancellation by the Commission. In situations in which a construction permit has not passed the original expiration date, the application grant will remain in effect, but the construction permit reverts back to the original expiration date. The prior extension of a permit pursuant to a non-final application grant will not provide the basis for any additional construction time.”
Pending requests for an extension are dead in the water, and the original expiration date will be enforced.
RBR-TVBR observation: As we understand it, the current definition of an eligible entity basically is a definition of a very small business because the courts have shot down all attempts to be more specific. Now the courts are apparently saying the definition is not specific enough. The casualties are the small companies who have wasted their money, along with the citizens who will not get a new station – most of which are in underserved areas. Frankly, this is one of the stupidest exercises in jurisprudence that we have ever seen.