By John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable Online, 4-27-20

With every pandemic-driven, shelter-in-place day feeling like Groundhog Day, it is appropriate that the deadline for the latest installment of the endless broadcast deregulation saga has come due.

The FCC has been trying to come up with a deregulatory regime that passes muster with the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since the first Bush administration, with remand after remand by the court sending the plan back to the commissioners.

The FCC’s frustration with the court is evident in Solicitor General Noel Francisco’s latest petition to the Supreme Court, challenging the Third Circuit decision on behalf of the regulator.

Multiple commissions have concluded that allowing broadcasters more ownership flexibility in a market crowded with competing content providers – cable, VOD, satellite, OTT – is in the public interest.  The current FCC told the Supreme Court on April 17 that the Third Circuit’s repeated obstruction of that effort “[has] saddled broadcast markets nationwide with outdated rules that the FCC has repeatedly concluded – and that the panel has acknowledged – are preventing struggling traditional outlets from entering transactions that would allow them to retain economic vitality.”

The struggle has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.  The National Association of Broadcasters said some of its members have lost up to 90% of their advertising revenue.  » Read More