News

TV Groups Appeal Media-Ownership Case

4/08/2002 8:43 AM Eastern

Las Vegas -- A pair of TV-station groups is asking a federal court in
Washington, D.C., to reconsider a pair of media-ownership rulings issued in
February.

The request was made April 5 by the National Association of Broadcasters and
the Network Affiliated Stations Alliance, both of which represent hundreds of
stations that distribute the programming of CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox.

The NAB and NASA said a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.
Circuit erred in ordering the Federal Communications Commission to eliminate a
rule that effectively bars the common ownership of a cable system and TV station
in the same market.

In addition, the groups want the court to take another look at its decision
requiring the FCC to retain or modify a rule that bars one company from owning
TV stations with a combined audience reach greater than 35 percent.

The two groups said both decisions were flawed and should be given a fresh
look either by the same three-judge panel that issued the initial ruling or by
the entire D.C. Circuit.

The NAB and NASA fear that removal of the 35 percent cap would allow the
networks to buy more stations and exercise undue market power over their
remaining affiliates.

The FCC is debating its next legal moves. The agency could join the NAB and
NASA in seeking rehearing or file an appeal with the Supreme Court. FCC sources
said the Department of Justice is opposed to the latter.

The D.C. Circuit has granted the commission until April 19 to seek rehearing
in its court, an FCC source said.

FCC general counsel Jane Mago said the agency sought more time because the
court handed down a new decision last week that returned to the agency a rule
that placed limits on the ownership of two TV stations in certain
markets.

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