Chi appeals court delays decision on fin-syn rules

No decision was issued Friday from Chicago’s U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on the fate of fin-syn rules, raising eyebrows among interested parties.

Two issues are expected to soon be decided by the court: Whether there will be any fin-syn restrictions placed upon the networks during an interim period when the Federal Communications Commission is charged with drafting new rules, and whether Chi Judge Richard A. Posner will remain a participant in the case.

Parties to the case were expecting both issues to be decided by Friday, since the court had set Dec. 4 as the date for deciding the former issue. No explanation was given by the court for not meeting Friday’s deadline.

On Nov. 5, the Chicago court overturned last year’s FCC decision to revise longstanding fin-syn rules. Hollywood is urging the court to allow the 1991 FCC revisions to remain in place until the commission comes up with more acceptable regs; the networks and Fox Broadcasting are urging no rules in the interim.

Meanwhile, Posner — who wrote the opinion rejecting the new FCC rules as “unreasoned and unreasonable”– continues to face a conflict-of-interest challenge from fin-syn proponents. They argue the judge should remove himself from the case, since he was once hired by CBS in a fin-syn-related case while serving as a professor of law.

Posner has refused to step down, but there was speculation Friday that the reason for the delay was that all 11 judges on the appellate court have been asked to weigh in on whether Posner should remain.

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