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FCC Given 90 Days to Complete 2018 Quadrennial Review

Or it must justify the delay to the NAB and U.S. Court of Appeals

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has given the Federal Communications Commission 90 days to complete its 2018 quadrennial review, or to justify why the National Association of Broadcasters’ petition for mandamus should not be granted.

With the swearing in of Anna Gomez earlier this week, the NAB has indicated that a fully-seated commission should be more than capable of completing the task — especially with the 2-2 political standstill finally over.

We told you in April that the NAB had gone to court to try to force the FCC to “expeditiously complete” its 2018 quadrennial review. NAB accused the commission of “a perpetual slow-roll” and asked how the FCC could proceed with its 2022 review when the 2018 one still hasn’t been completed.

Now, with an impending court order, NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt has issued a statement applauding the U.S. Court of Appeals for taking action and “recognizing the vital importance of the FCC completing its long overdue 2018 quadrennial review.”

“Today, broadcasters’ service to communities across the country is imperiled by the commission’s failure to modernize its decades-old media ownership rules. This ruling is an important step to compel a review that the record makes clear is necessary to allow local broadcasters to more fairly compete and deliver our trusted, locally-focused programming in a transformed media marketplace.

“NAB looks forward to actively engaging with the FCC to forge a path forward and reinforce the essential service provided by free, local broadcast stations in communities across the country.”

In August, in response to the NAB, the commission filed a reply with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It said the NAB was asking for a “drastic” remedy that should be invoked only in extraordinary circumstances.

In making its case, the FCC said the commission had in fact taken a reasonable amount of time, and that there had been no impropriety in its actions.

Three ownership rules are subject to the quadrennial review: the local radio ownership rule, which limits common ownership of multiple broadcast radio stations in the same market; the local television ownership rule, which limits common ownership of multiple broadcast television stations in the same market; and the dual network rule, which effectively prohibits mergers between or among the four highest-rated broadcast TV networks nationwide (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC).

More than a year ago, NAB President/CEO Curtis LeGeyt met with Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and other FCC officials to push them to act. He said then that some delay had been understandable, given that an appeal of a separate FCC regulatory rollback had gone to the Supreme Court. But that was settled in early 2021, and in early 2022, LeGeyt said at the time, the FCC needed to wrap things up.

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