Agency never filed documents asking for re-hearing

WASHINGTON — In another sign of the changing regulatory climate, the Federal Communications Commission passed up a chance to challenge a court ruling striking down a key cable ownership cap.

Agency had until Monday to file documents with the court asking for a re-hearing on the cable rule. FCC spokesman David Fiske said no such papers were logged.

FCC cap in question prohibited a cabler from reaching more than 30% of the national market.

In a big victory for megacablers AOL Time Warner and AT&T, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled March 2 that the FCC provided no justifiable basis for the ownership cap.

Court, in declaring the cap unconstitutional and arbitrary, instructed the FCC to provide compelling evidence if the agency intended to put a cable cap back into action. Chiefly, the agency must show why a 30% cap, or any other number, protects viewers from monopolies.

Fiske said the FCC will be reviewing paperwork to determine what steps, if any, need to be taken.

New FCC chair Michael Powell is an outspoken advocate of deregulation. While serving as an FCC commissioner, he often criticized rules limiting ownership of media outlets.

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