L.A. Joins Suit Against Franchise Rules


The city of Los Angeles has become the latest jurisdiction to join the suit challenging the Federal Communications Commission's March 5 order that localities must approve franchise applications from new competitors within 90 days.

The L.A. City Council voted May 31 to ask to intervene in the challenge, which was filed in multiple districts of the U.S. Court of Appeals on April 3. The suits have since been consolidated and will be heard in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Petitioners argue that the FCC order represents an “abuse of discretion” and violates the U.S. Constitution, the Federal Communications Act and the public notice requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.

The city's resolution states municipal officials want to prevent the FCC from granting communications companies the right to use local streets and roads without the permission of state or local governments.

The city also wants to preserve benefits it has gained by virtue of local contracts, such as buildouts, free service to local schools and public buildings and reimbursement of regulatory costs, among other things.

Attorneys are stacking up on both sides of the issue. The suits were originally filed on behalf of trade groups including the Alliance for Communications Democracy, the Alliance for Community Media, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. According to the suit docket and attorneys, those petitioners will be joined by intervenors including the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the states of Hawaii and Wisconsin; the city and county of San Francisco; Anne Arundel County, Md.; New York City; Chicago; Milwaukee, the New York communities of Larchmont, Mamaroneck and White Plains; Tampa, Fla.; and Wilmington, Del.

Petitions to intervene on behalf of the Federal Communications Commission have been filed by the ad hoc telecom manufacturers' coalition; Qwest Communications International; U.S. Telecom, the telephone industry's trade group; Verizon Communications; and AT&T.

The case is still in the pre-trial motion stage.