FCC asks to keep the stall on Martin’s dereg


Kevin Martin’s modest attempts to loosen cross-ownership of broadcast and print properties in the top 20 DMAs will be put back on ice, if the current FCC has its way. That’s what it told the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Martin got a party-line vote to approve that and made no attempt to push through any other deregulatory policies. The policy, approved 12/18/07, was immediately challenged in court, and a stay was put on the FCC order allowing the cross-owned combos.

On 5/5/09, the Court asked the FCC if the stay should be lifted, and the FCC – now two commissioners light and comprised of two Democrats and one Republican, informed the court that the majority doesn’t support the order and that the stay should remain in place.

The court put it there until 10/1/09.

The new FCC recommendation says nothing about the Commission’s opinion, but does note that there are three new members who have not been polled on the matter. It also says the Commission is getting ready to undertake the mandated quadrennial review of ownership rules, and that the cross-ownership rules will be part of that process.

For that reason, it asked that the stay remain in place.

RBR-TVBR observation: If the Third Circuit ordered a new vote, the party line would almost certainly keep the freeze on top-20 cross-ownership and render challenges to the rule moot.