Network Affiliates Challenge ‘Capricious’ US Media Reform

11 August 2003

A body of over 600 US television stations is petitioning a federal court to overturn the relaxation of media ownership rules.

The Network Affiliated Stations Alliance – a coalition representing local operators affiliated with broadcasters such as NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS – last week filed the petition with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the new rules in June [WAMN: 03-Jun-03], but has since run into unexpectedly vociferous opposition from politicians and a wide range of lobby groups.

The proposal NASA wants to overturn is the raising of the national TV ownership cap from 35% of national reach to 45%. The group blasted the FCC decision as “arbitrary, capricious and otherwise not in accordance with law.”

Networks argue this reform is the only way they can compete with satellite and cable, but affiliates fear takeover by Big Media

NASA’s brief petition will be followed by a longer filing. Its appearance in court coincided with the launch of a lawsuit by the National Association of Broadcasters.

The NAB, which also represents affiliates, is fighting a ban on mergers between the top four TV stations in a single area and a change in the definitions of radio markets [WAMN: 31-Jul-03]. It too made a brief petition last week ahead of a longer filing.

The FCC’s rules were published in the Federal Register last Tuesday. They are due to come into force on September 4.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff