Last Minute Stay of Execution for Media Ownership Rules

A three justice panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia today blocked the implementation of the FCC’s new loosened media ownership rules, which were supposed to go into effect tomorrow. The block was prompted by the numerous legal challenges that have been mounted against the rules. The Court’s order said,

“Given the magnitude of this matter, and the public’s interest in reaching the proper resolution, a stay is warranted pending thorough and efficient judicial review.”

The major suit filed against the FCC comes from the LPFM advocacy organization, the Prometheus Radio Project, which filed their suit with the assistance of the Media Access Project.

I think it’s interesting that the suit is being heard by the Philadelphia Court, since it’s typical for FCC cases to be heard in the DC Circuit Court. However, Prometheus is based in Philadelphia, so this may very well be tactical decision — since the DC Circuit is very conservative and pro-deregulation — in addition to being convenient for Prometheus.

Even though it’s just an early victory, this block is important, since it’s hard to stop a speeding train, and undoing the FCC’s changes once the media giants have already set their deals in motion could prove difficult. It’s also important because it’s another blow to Mikey Powell, who’s once bulletproof reign over the FCC is becoming increasingly pockmarked.

This move might also buy some more time for Congress to undo the FCC’s new rules as they come back into session — especially, since the Court’s block will move this back onto the top of the heap.






One response to “Last Minute Stay of Execution for Media Ownership Rules”

  1. John Anderson Avatar

    Possible explanation for the Prometheus court action taking place in the 3rd Circuit:

    The appeals process for FCC decisions usually involves more steps than what time allowed for. If everyone was “going by the book” on this one, folks would’ve filed a petition for reconsideration of the entire rulemaking/Report & Order. The FCC would have to deny the petition, which would then clear the way for an appeal to the D.C. circuit.

    Or perhaps they thought their concerns didn’t fit into the cases outlined in 47 U.S.C. § 402(b) for the D.C. circuit route. One of the documents the court released seems to direct consolidation of all nine lawsuits pending over the rule revisions into the 3rd circuit. It certainly is curious.

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