Twenty-First Century Fox Challenges FCC's Broadcast Ownership Order

Keep up with the latest developments and legal issues in the telecommunications and emerging technology sectors, with exclusive access to a comprehensive collection of telecommunications law news,...

By Michaela Ross

Sept. 16 — Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. Sept. 16 challenged an order by the Federal Communications Commission tightening broadcast station ownership rules ( Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. v. FCC, D.C. Cir., No. 16-01324, complaint filed 9/16/16 ).

The agency's rule would force broadcasters selling station groups to dismantle them in order to comply with new audience caps, the company said in a complaint filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“The FCC not only exceeded its statutory authority by altering the national audience reach limitation but also failed in its obligation to engage in reasoned decision making by refusing even to entertain arguments that the limitation should be relaxed or eliminated, rather than tightened, as it acknowledged it has the authority to do,” the company argued in its complaint.

The FCC voted to tighten limits on television and radio station ownership by eliminating the practice of only counting part of some stations' audiences in an order issued Sept. 7. The move threw out a three-decade-old rule where the agency counted only half of households in a broadcast area when judging ownership against the limit of reaching 39 percent of U.S. TV households. The commission said the rule, called the Ultra High Frequency discount, or UHF, was no longer needed after 2009's nationwide digital TV transition. The discount was designed for stations transmitting on higher radio wave frequencies—or channels 14 to 51—that were disadvantaged against broadcasters on lower channels whose signals reached farther.

An FCC spokesperson did not immediately respond to request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at

For More Information

The complaint is available at:

The FCC's order is available at:

Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Request Tech & Telecom on Bloomberg Law