Court hears appeal of media regs

Arguments for appealing rules to begin Jan. 12

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communication Commission’s controversial media ownership rules will get their day in court.

The Philadelphia appeals court that placed a hold on the new regs two months ago has skedded oral arguments for those appealing the rules to begin Jan. 12.

The new regs governing the number of media entities one company can own have generated a storm of criticism from the public and in Congress since they were issued June 2.

Several lawmakers are leading a charge to repeal part or all of the rules, while the White House and a handful of House Republicans are dead set on blocking any rollback effort. The Philly court stayed the rules in mid-August to give itself and Congress more time to review their impact on local programming and the overall media landscape.

Several groups of affiliated TV broadcasters and radio companies such as the National Assn. of Broadcasters, the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance and Prometheus Radio are challenging the rules in court, arguing that they give big media congloms too much power.

Meanwhile, Fox Entertainment Group and Viacom/CBS believe the new rules are still too strict and want even more flexibility to purchase more stations and other media companies; they too are challenging the regs in court.

Just weeks ago the same court denied the networks’ request to transfer the case to a D.C. appeals court considered to have a more deregulatory bent.

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