Articles Posted in Communications Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the FCC's order denying Press's application for review of the FCC Media Bureau's decision. The court held that FCC regulations, decisions, and practice support the Commission's contention that applications for minor modifications are subject to the spacing requirements articulated in 47 C.F.R. 73.207. Any nonconforming application requires a waiver of that rule, and Press failed to justify such waiver. Therefore, the FCC's Order was valid based on the failure of Press's proposed channel swap with Equity to comply with the applicable short spacing bar or establish its entitlement to a waiver of that bar. Because the short spacing defect was independently sufficient to support the order, the court did not reach Press's alternative argument. View "Press Communications LLC v. FCC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Communications Law

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The DC Circuit denied the petition for review of the FCC's decision regarding the nationwide emergency alert system. Under the FCC's decision, when broadcasters receive emergency alerts from government entities, the broadcasters may, if they choose, broadcast the alerts only in English. The court held that Section 1 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. 151, does not obligate the FCC to require broadcasters to translate emergency alerts and broadcast them in languages in addition to English. The court further held that it was not unreasonable for the FCC to gather more information from relevant parties before deciding whether to compel broadcasters to translate emergency alerts and broadcast them in languages in addition to English. View "Multicultural Media v. FCC" on Justia Law

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After the FCC denied SNR and Northstar's application to use bidding credits to purchase wireless spectrum licenses, SNR and Northstar bought some of the licenses at full price and relinquished the rest to the FCC. The FCC fined the petitioners hundreds of millions of dollars for failing to comply with the auction terms that required all bidders to purchase the licenses they won. The DC Circuit held that the FCC reasonably determined that DISH exercised de facto control over SNR and Northstar's businesses; but the FCC did not give SNR and Northstar adequate notice that, if their relationships with DISH cost them their bidding credits, the FCC would also deny them an opportunity to cure. Accordingly, the court remanded for the FCC to give petitioners an opportunity to seek to negotiate a cure for the de facto control the FCC found that DISH exercised over them. View "SNR Wireless LicenseCo, LLC v. FCC" on Justia Law

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After the Commission held that petitioners engaged in a scheme designed to collect millions of dollars in unwarranted long-distance access charges from AT&T, petitioners challenged the Commission's award of damages to AT&T and statements in the Commission's decision that referred to the merits of the companies' state law claims against AT&T. The DC Circuit held that the Commission's damages award was permissible and that the Commission's conclusion that petitioners did not render any service to AT&T chargeable under the Communications Act was supported by substantial evidence in the record. However, insofar as the Commission reached and decided any questions of state law or the merits of petitioners' quantum meruit claims, those parts of the decision were without legal effect and vacated in relevant part. View "All American Telephone Co. v. FCC" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged two related but more recent orders from the FCC adopting procedures for an auction designed to make more room on the electromagnetic spectrum for mobile broadband (wireless network) providers. The D.C. Circuit dismissed in part and denied in part the petition for review of the Commending Operations and Channel-Sharing orders. The court held that, insofar as petitioners challenge rules for the repacking process that originated with the Auction Order, their challenges were barred. In regard to the Channel-Sharing Order, the court held that this order was neither arbitrary nor unfounded. In this case, the order sets only modest goals and adopts means that common sense tells the court will advance those goals. Finally, the court lacked jurisdiction over petitioners' final claim against the Channel-Sharing Order: that it flouts the Regulatory Flexibility Act. View "Free Access & Broadcast Telemedia v. FCC" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Nueva's application to the FCC for a license to construct and operate a Lower Power FM Radio (LPFM) station in Philadelphia. Because Nueva's interpretation of a Blog Post authored by the Chief of the Media Bureau, which was intended to give guidance to applicants, was not correct, the court affirmed the Commission's denial of the application for review without reaching Nueva's claim that the Blog Post was binding upon the Commission. In this case, the Commission's interpretation of the Blog Post was not arbitrary and capricious. The court also held that Nueva forfeited its argument that it did not have fair notice of the Commission's interpretation of the Blog Post. View "Nueva Esperanza, Inc. v. FCC" on Justia Law

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Petitioners sought review of the FCC's order reversing a decades-old, rebuttable presumption that determined whether state and local franchising authorities may regulate cable rates. Under its new Order, the Commission presumes there is Competing Provider Effective Competition and places the burden upon the franchising authority that wants to regulate basic cable rates to prove there is not effective competition in its area. The D.C. Circuit denied the petition for review and held that the Commission's use of a rebuttable presumption to comply with the statutory requirement that it make a finding on the state of competition in each franchise area was a permissible construction of the statutory requirement that the Commission find effective competition before terminating rate regulation; the Commission reasonably interpreted the Communications Act to allow, after a finding of effective competition, termination of existing certifications without having to wait for a petition of the kind referenced in 47 U.S.C. 543(a)(5); and the court rejected arguments regarding the STELA Reauthorization Act. The court also held that the Commission's rule was not arbitrary nor capricious. View "National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors v. FCC" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenged the Commission's order that set permanent rate caps and ancillary fee caps for interstate inmate calling services (ICS) calls. After the presidential inauguration in January 2017, counsel for the FCC advised the court that, due to a change in the composition of the Commission, "a majority of the current Commission does not believe that the agency has the authority to cap intrastate rates" under section 276 of the Communications Act of 1934. Consequently, the DC Circuit granted in part and denied in part the petitions for review, remanding for further proceedings. The court also dismissed two claims as moot. The court held that the order's proposed caps on intrastate rates exceed the FCC's statutory authority under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 Act; the use of industry-averaged cost data as proposed in the Order was arbitrary and capricious because it lacked justification in the record and was not supported by reasoned decisionmaking; the order's imposition of video visitation reporting requirements was beyond the statutory authority of the Commission; and the order's proposed wholesale exclusion of site commission payments from the FCC's cost calculus was devoid of reasoned decisionmaking and thus arbitrary and capricious. View "Global Tel*Link v. FCC" on Justia Law

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Neustar petitioned for review of the FCC's orders naming another company, Telcordia, to replace it as the Local Number Portability Administrator (LNPA). The DC Circuit held that it had jurisdiction to hear Neustar's petition; the Order did not qualify as a rule, and there was no requirement of notice-and-comment rulemaking when selecting the LNPA; neither the FCC's neutrality determination nor its cost analysis was arbitrary and capricious; and the FCC's Best and Final Offers (BAFO) determination was not arbitrary and capricious. Because the court found no error in the FCC's decision, the court denied the petitions for review. View "Neustar, Inc. v. FCC" on Justia Law

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The Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005, 47 U.S.C. 227(b) bans most unsolicited fax advertisements, but allows unsolicited fax advertisements in certain commercial circumstances. The FCC issued a rule in 2006 that requires businesses to include opt-out notices not just on unsolicited fax advertisements, but also on solicited fax advertisements. Petitioners, businesses that send solicited fax advertisements, contend that the FCC's new rule exceeds the FCC's authority under the Act. The court held that the Act's requirement that businesses include an opt-out notice on unsolicited fax advertisements does not authorize the FCC to require businesses to include an opt-out notice on solicited fax advertisements. Therefore, the court held that the FCC's 2006 Solicited Fax Rule is unlawful to the extent that it requires opt-out notices on solicited faxes. The court vacated the order in this case because it interpreted and applied that 2006 Rule, remanding for further proceedings. View "Bais Yaakov of Spring Valley v. FCC" on Justia Law