In a 66-page brief filed with the Supreme Court, The National Association of Broadcasters says the Third Circuit Court of Appeals overstepped its authority when it invalidated the FCC’s order modernizing local media ownership rules. The NAB is asking the Supreme Court to overturn that ruling.
The radio industry believes rules regulating the industry should be updated and modified so it can better compete with emerging technologies that are chipping away at their revenue. Many in the industry were hoping for another round of deregulation, and saw that as a real possibility with the majority of the Commission made up of Republicans.
Section 202(h) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 directs the FCC to review its media ownership rules every four years and to “repeal” or “modify” any rule that is no longer “necessary in the public interest as the result of competition.”
In the Commission’s most recent review, the agency modified or eliminated several decades-old ownership rules that substantial competitive changes in the media marketplace rendered unnecessary.
The Third Circuit concluded that the Commission inadequately considered the effect of those changes on minority and female ownership— even though Section 202(h) says nothing about that issue. The Third Circuit vacated all the Commission’s rule changes (as well as other agency actions in these consolidated cases) and ordered the agency to collect additional statistics on ownership diversity.
The NAB believes the Third Circuit is overstepping its bounds and standing in the way of ownership rules being updated and modified by the FCC.
For 16 years the Third Circuit has asserted its authority over the FCC’s media ownership rules.
However, last month the Supreme Court granted an appeal by the FCC and NAB to a ruling by the Third Circuit that blocked the FCC’s 2017 quadrennial review order implementing changes to its broadcast ownership rules.
The FCC’s media ownership order had sought to:
– Eliminate the ban on owning a print newspaper and any radio or TV station in the same market.
– Remove the restrictions on owning radio stations along with a TV station in the same market;
– Revise the rule that limits the ownership of TV stations in local markets;
– Reverse its previous decision effectively banning the joint sale of even modest amounts of advertising time by two same-market TV stations; and
reform the FCC’s approach to embedded markets.