Broadcasters sue FCC over anti-collusion rule

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) on Friday sued the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over its recent move to curb resource-sharing arrangements between broadcasters.

In a petition to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the NAB asked the court to overturn a decision the agency made in March to keep broadcasters from sharing advertising sales resources.

In its petition, the NAB called the agency’s new rules “onerous regulations that do not serve the public interest” and impose “new legal obligations that render previously legitimate transactions invalid [and] require costly restructuring of existing business arrangements.”

In March, the agency voted 3-2 to consider broadcasters that share 15 percent or more of their advertising sales resources as being owned by the same company.

The move effectively banned these resource-sharing arrangements, as agency rules prohibit one company from owning more than one of the top four broadcast stations in any market.

At the time, the NAB called the vote “arbitrary and capricious.”

In its petition to the federal court on Friday, the broadcaster group also criticized the agency for failing to meet its Congressional requirement to review its media ownership rules every four years.

The agency has not yet completed the 2010 review, which was initiated under former Chairman Julius Genachowski.

"NAB believes that a fact-based examination of today's marketplace would show that FCC ownership restrictions against free and local broadcasters are outdated in a world of national pay TV giants," NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton said in a statement.

"These rules — some of which have not been altered since 1975 — place broadcasters at a competitive disadvantage as we strive to continue delivering news, entertainment and lifeline programming to local communities across America,” he said.