FCC Defends Media Rules in Court


New broadcast-ownership rules that ignited a storm on Capitol Hill over possible media concentration were a rational reaction to today's local markets, which are saturated with news, information and entertainment choices, the Federal Communications Commission told a federal court Monday.

"The [FCC's] revised rules do not, by any stretch of the imagination, `eviscerate' the system of media-ownership regulation," the commission said in a 126-page brief submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The FCC is trying to fend off challenges that the rules were loosened too much or not enough. Under the rules, one company in a large market may own up to three TV stations, eight radio stations, cable systems and a newspaper.

The FCC rules, adopted in June, were stayed by the Third Circuit in September pending appeal, handing a victory to consumer groups that believe the agency had permitted the domination of broadcast outlets by a few media giants.

But in the brief, the FCC said the new rules were appropriately tailored to market conditions in which consumers have access to hundreds of video channels from cable and satellite and unlimited information sources over the Internet.

"The [FCC's] revised rules are a measured response to the substantial changes in the broadcast industry and the media marketplace in recent years," the commission said.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Feb. 11.