FCC Opens Media Ownership Proceeding For Public Comment
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on how to address the issues raised by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Prometheus v. FCC, which two years ago stayed and remanded several media ownership rules that the Commission had adopted in its 2002 Biennial Review Order. The Further Notice also opens a comprehensive quadrennial review of all of the media ownership rules, as required by statute.
Section 202(h) of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, as amended, mandates that the FCC periodically review its broadcast ownership rules to determine "whether any of such rules are necessary in the public interest as a result of competition." As directed by Congress, the FCC opened a review proceeding in 2002 to analyze its broadcast ownership rules. The Commission's decision, set forth in the 2002 Biennial Review Order, was adopted in June 2003.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision affirming some Commission decisions and remanding others for further justification or modification.
The Further Notice details the issues raised in Prometheus regarding the Commission's earlier decisions and rationale. It discusses, and invites comment on, the rules that the court remanded:
* Should the Commission revise the limits adopted in the 2002 Biennial Review
Order on the number of stations that can be commonly owned in one market, or is
there additional evidence or analysis available now upon which the Commission
can rely to further justify the limits adopted then?
* Similarly, in order to address the court's concerns, should the Commission revise these numerical limits or is additional evidence available to further justify them?
* How should the Commission address radio/television and newspaper/broadcast
The item also seeks comment on the court's remand of certain proposals relating to minority ownership. In addition, responsive to the quadrennial review required by statute, the Further Notice seeks comment on whether these rules sent back to the Commission by the court, as well as the dual network rule which was not at issue in Prometheus, are necessary in the public interest as a result of competition.
Finally, the Further Notice lists pending petitions for reconsideration of the 2002 Biennial Review Order and states that parties may refresh the record concerning these petitions. Action by the Commission June 21, 2006, by Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 06- 93). Chairman Martin, Commissioners Tate and McDowell, with Commissioners Copps and Adelstein concurring and dissenting in part. Separate statements issued by Chairman Martin, Commissioners Copps, Adelstein, Tate, and McDowell.
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