Sinclair questions appeals court media ownership ruling on “eight-voices” duopoly test

The Sinclair Broadcast Group has questioned aspects of the recently issued opinion by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia in the Prometheus Radio Project case (see FCC Actions in this issue of “RF Update.”)

In a press release issued June 29, the broadcast group questioned the court’s right to order the FCC to continue to apply the eight-voices duopoly test. The eight-voices test refers to rules permitting one company to own two TV stations in markets where eight other independently owned TV stations would remain after the duopoly is formed.

In prior litigation brought by Sinclair, the Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia remanded the eight-voices test to the FCC and ordered the agency to either justify or eliminate the rule.

The FCC responded, stating and explicitly concluding that the eight-voices test could not be justified and wasn’t necessarily in the public’s best interest.

Given the FCC's conclusions, the Third Circuit's order appears to be in direct contravention of the D.C. Circuit's opinion. Sinclair said it is considering its legal options regarding this violation.

However, Sinclair agrees with the court that the FCC has not adequately supported strict numerical rules for determining when triopolies, as opposed to duopolies, are acceptable.

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