A federal appeals court April 23 reinstated a nearly four-year-old decision by federal regulators allowing Hallmark Cards to buy five Spanish-language tv stations.

As reported by the Associated Press, the 11-1 decision by the full U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reverses a ruling by a three-judge panel of the court. It upholds a June 5,1987, vote of the Federal Communications Commission to allow the transaction.

Hallmark operates the stations as part of its Univision tv network.

Two companies, Hispanic Broadcasting Limited Partnership and Hispanic Broadcasting System, wanted to overturn the FCC’s action so they could compete for the licenses.

Other plaintiffs, who claimed legal standing as viewers, opposed the transfer because they wanted the stations to remain in the hands of Hispanic owners.

The three-judge panel had ruled 2-1 that the FCC acted improperly in granting the licenses to Hallmark. However, the full court said Hispanic Broadcasting Limited Partnership and Hispanic Broadcasting System had not exhausted administrative challenges to the FCC’s ruling. The ruling said also that the challengers had waited too long to file an appeal.

The judges said other plaintiffs lacked the legal standing to challenge the commission.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they were still reviewing the ruling and were not prepared to comment.

Hallmark Cards, the Kansas City, Kan., based king of the greeting card business, agreed in July 1986 to buy the stations from Spanish Intl. Communications for more than $300 million in cash and notes.

The stations are located in Los Angeles, Fresno, San Antonio, Miami and New York. The deal also included repeater stations in Philadelphia, Hartford, Conn., and Bakersfield, Calif., and a low-power station in Austin, Texas.

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