FCC Limit on Local TV Ad-Sharing Tossed Out by Appeals Court

  • U.S. court in Philadelphia says FCC regulation not justified
  • NAB praises ruling, calls for ‘modern world’ FCC rules

A U.S. appeals court threw out rules that limit advertisement-sharing among local television stations, saying the Federal Communications Commission improperly enacted the regulation in 2014.

The FCC at the time said it acted to stem circumvention of its rules designed to prevent a single owner from dominating a local community. The agency decided that letting one station sell more than 15 percent of another’s advertisements amounted to forbidden common ownership.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said the regulation wasn’t justified because the FCC hasn’t updated broader ownership rules. The court also criticized the FCC’s inaction on the broader rules, which have been mired in legal struggle for more than a dozen years.

“At long last, this opinion directs the FCC to do its job and adopt broadcast ownership rules that reflect the modern world,” the National Association of Broadcasters said in a statement. “We’re particularly delighted the court highlights the irrationality of a rule that bars broadcast/newspaper combinations in the same market.”

For a Bloomberg Intelligence background on media ownership issues, click here

The case is part of what the U.S. Court of Appeals said was a “protracted battle over the future of the nation’s broadcast industry.” In a 60-page opinion, the court also ordered the FCC to promptly define what it means by “eligible entity” as it relates to initiatives to promote minority and female broadcast ownership.

The case is Prometheus Radio v. FCC, No. 15-3863, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Philadelphia).

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