Prometheus Radio Project v. F.C.C.

Decision Date24 June 2004
Docket NumberNo. 03-4072.,No. 04-1956.,No. 03-3651.,No. 03-4073.,No. 03-3950.,No. 03-3577.,No. 03-3708.,No. 03-3578.,No. 03-3675.,No. 03-3388.,No. 03-3665.,No. 03-3894.,No. 03-3580.,No. 03-3951.,No. 03-3582.,No. 03-3581.,No. 03-3579.,03-3388.,03-3577.,03-3578.,03-3579.,03-3580.,03-3581.,03-3582.,03-3651.,03-3665.,03-3675.,03-3708.,03-3894.,03-3950.,03-3951.,03-4072.,03-4073.,04-1956.
Citation373 F.3d 372
PartiesPROMETHEUS RADIO PROJECT v. FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION; United States of America Prometheus Radio Project, Media General, Inc., National Association of Broadcasters, Network Affiliated Stations Alliance, ABC Television Affiliates Association, CBS Television Affiliates Association and NBC Television Affiliates, Fox Entertainment Group, Inc. and Fox Television Stations, Inc., Viacom Inc., National Broadcasting Company, Inc., and Telemundo Communications Group, Inc., Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., Media Alliance, Paxson Communications Corporation, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States, Tribune Company, Paxon Communications Corporation, Emmis Communications Corporation, Center for Digital Democracy and Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, Clear Channel Communications, American Hispanic Owned Radio Association, Civil Rights Forum on Communications Policy, League of United Latin American Citizens, Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, National Asian American Telecommunications Association, National Association of Latino Independent Producers, National Coalition of Hispanic Organizations, National Council of La Raza, National Hispanic Media Coalition, National Indian Telecommunications Institute, National Urban League, Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc., PRLDEF-Institute for Puerto Rican Policy, Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc. and Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit

Angela J. Campbell, (Argued), James A. Bachtell, Karen Henein, Institute for Public Representation, Washington, DC, for Media Alliance and Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Inc.

Glen B. Manishin, (Argued), Stephanie A. Joyce, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, Vienna, VA, for Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America.

Robert A. Long, Jr., Kevin C. Newsom, Heidi C. Doerhoff, Covington & Burling, Washington, DC, for CBS Television Network Affiliates Association, NBC Television Affiliates and Network Affiliated Stations Alliance.

Wade H. Hargrove, Mark J. Prak, Brooks, Pierce, Mclendon, Humphry & Leonard, Raleigh, NC, for ABC Television Affiliates Association.

Henk Brands (Argued), Patrick S. Campbell, John H. Longwell, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Washington, DC, for Fox Entertainment Group, Inc., Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Viacom Inc.

Michael K. Kellogg, Mark L. Evans, Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd & Evans, PLLC, Washington, DC, for National Broadcasting Company, Inc. and Telemundo Communications Group, Inc.

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. (Argued), Ian Heath Gershengorn, Elaine J. Goldenberg, Jenner & Block, LLC, Washington, DC, Henry L. Baumann, Jack N. Goodman, Jerianne Timmerman, National Association of Broadcasters, Washington, DC, for National Association of Broadcasters.

John R. Feore, Jr., Michael D. Hays, Kenneth D. Salomon, M. Anne Swanson, Theodore L. Radway, Jason E. Rademacher, Dow, Lohnes & Albertson, PLLC, Washington, DC, for Millcreek Broadcasting, LLC, Media General, Inc., Simmons Media Group and Paxson Communications Corporation.

John E. Fiorini III, Helgi C. Walker,* Eve Klindera Reed,* Andrew G. McBride,* Richard J. Bodorff,* James R. Bayes, Kathleen A. Kirby, Richard E. Wiley, (Argued), Martha E. Heller, Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP, Washington, DC, Kathryn R. Schmeltzer, (Argued), Barry H. Gottfried, (Argued), Tony Lin, Paul A. Cicelski, Scott R. Flick, Christopher J. Sadowski, Shaw Pittman LLP, Washington, DC, for Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. and Univision Communications Inc.

Miguel A. Estrada, (Argued), Michael J. Edney, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Washington, DC, for Clear Channel Communications, Inc.

Carter G. Phillips, (Argued), R. Clark Wadlow, Richard D. Klingler, James P. Young, Anita L. Wallgren, Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP, Washington, DC, Crane H. Kenney, Tribune Company, Chicago, for Tribune Company.

Jerome M. Marcus, (Argued), Jonathan Auerbach, Berger and Montague, P.C., Philadelphia, PA, Dianne Smith, Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc., Raleigh, NC, for Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc. David Honig, Nicolaine Lazarre, (Argued), Fatima Fofana, Julie Smith, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, Washington, DC, for American Hispanic Owned Radio Association, Civil Rights Forum on Communications Policy, League of United Latin American Citizens, Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, National Asian American Telecommunications Association, National Association of Latino Independent Producers, National Coalition of Hispanic Organizations, National Council of La Raza, National Hispanic Media Coalition, National Indian Telecommunications Institute, National Urban League, Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc., PRLDEF-Institute for Puerto Rican Policy, Unity: Journalists of Color, Inc. and Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press.

Stephen D. Gavin, Katrina C. Gleber, Patton Boggs LLP, Washington, DC, for Nassau Broadcasting Holdings, Inc., and Nassau Broadcasting II, LLC.

David A. Irwin, Irwin, Campbell & Tannenwald, Washington, DC, for Family Stations, Inc., Sunbelt Communications Company, Press Communications, LLC and Diversified Communications.

James L. Winston, Rubin, Winston, Diercks, Harris & Cooke, Washington, DC, for National Association of Black Broadcasters, Inc. and Rainbow Push Coalition, Inc.

R. Hewitt Pate, Assistant Attorney General, Makan Delrahim, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Catherine G. O'Sullivan, Nancy C. Garrison, James J. Fredricks, United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, Washington, DC, for United States of America.

John A. Rogovin, General Counsel (Argued), Daniel M. Armstrong, Associate General Counsel, Jacob M. Lewis, Associate General Counsel (Argued), C. Grey Pash, Jr., Nandan M. Joshi, Federal Communications Commission, Washington, DC, for the Federal Communications Commission.

Before SCIRICA, Chief Judge, AMBRO and FUENTES, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

AMBRO, Circuit Judge.

                                                 Table of Contents
                  I.  Background .........................................................................382
                      A.  The 1934 Communications Act and Early Broadcast Ownership
                            Regulation ...................................................................382
                      B.  Deregulation Initiatives .......................................................383
                      C.  The Telecommunications Act of 1996 .............................................384
                      D.  Regulatory Review Since 1996 ...................................................384
                      E.  The Commission's 2003 Report and Order .........................................386
                      F.  The Order's Modification of Broadcast Media Ownership Rules ....................386
                          1.     Local Television Ownership ..............................................386
                          2.     Local Radio Ownership ...................................................387
                          3 & 4. Newspaper/Broadcast and Radio/Television Cross-Ownership ................387
                          5.     National Television Ownership ...........................................388
                          6.     Dual Network Rule .......................................................388
                      G.  Procedural History of the Current Appeals ......................................388
                      H.  Subsequent Legislation .........................................................389
                 II.  Jurisdiction and Standard of Review ................................................389
                      A.  Standard of Review Under the Administrative Procedure Act.......................389
                      B.  Standard of Review Considerations Under Section 202(h)..........................390
                
                          1.     "Determine whether any such rules are necessary in the public
                                   interest." ............................................................391
                          2.     "Repeal or modify any regulations it determines to be no longer
                                   in the public interest." ..............................................394
                      C.  Conclusion .....................................................................395
                III.  Mootness and the National Television Ownership Rule ................................395
                 IV.  Cross-Ownership Rules ..............................................................397
                      A.  Regulatory Background and the 2002 Biennial Review .............................397
                      B.  The Commission's decision not to retain a ban on newspaper/broadcast
                            cross-ownership is justified under § 202(h) and is supported by record
                            evidence......................................................................398
                          1.     Newspaper/broadcast combinations can promote localism....................398
                          2.     A blanket prohibition on newspaper/broadcast combinations is
                                   not necessary to protect diversity ....................................399
                      C.  The Commission's decision to retain some limits on common ownership
...

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