The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided to put off hearing Tribune's challenge of the FCC's decision to grant it waivers to complete the deal to sell the company to investor Sam Zell due to a lawsuit filed by Media Alliance and the United Church of Christ Media Justice Campaign.
Tribune asked the commission for indefinite waivers and instead got
two-year waivers, or six months after the end of any litigation over
the waivers. At the time, FCC Democrats saw that as giving Tribune an
invitation to take the entire rule to court, which it proceeded to do
only days later.
On Wednesday, the court decided to hold off on hearing the
Tribune challenge, or a motion by media activists to dismiss, until the
FCC rules on a petition by those activists -- which include the United
Church of Christ and Media Alliance -- to reconsider its decision to
approve the deal.
The court told the commission to provide a status report on its reconsideration within 60 days.
The court also asked the parties for more information on
UCC's/Media Alliance's motion to dismiss the case on jurisdictional
grounds. They argued that since the FCC granted the transfer of control
application to Zell et. al., the court had no jurisdiction to hear the
They also argued that the issue, which Tribune raised, of
whether the cross-ownership rule is arbitrary and capricious is not
ripe for review and should be reviewed in the Third Circuit in
Philadelphia at any rate since it was in response to that court's
remand that the FCC loosened the rule.
"The fact that the court asked for additional briefing on
jurisdiction is quite significant," said Andrew J. Schwartzman of Media
Access Project, an attorney for Alliance. "Such action is infrequent
and indicates that it considers the question nonfrivolous and worthy of
Printed courtesy of Broadcasting and Cable and author John Eggerton