Multiple Skirmishes @ the FCC

Lots of activism in the form of paper-filing is taking place right now at the Federal Communications Commission.
A broad coalition of consumer rights, labor, and media democracy groups – representing both people working within and outside the media industry – have filed a petition to extend the FCC’s public comment deadline on its proposal to radically overhaul media ownership rules. The current comment deadline is December 2 – the FCC only planned to give the public a 90-day window in which to comment on this massive proposal – the coalition wants the comment period extended until April.
This same coalition is assembling a study group to review and rebut the FCC’s slew of “evidence” supporting further media consolidation.
As part of the research being done specifically on radio ownership, some interesting data is coming to light about the consolidation of FM stations among religious networks, especially concerning their use of low-power translator licenses. Since most of it has yet to be published I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but the numbers are pretty stark. One preview factoid: the largest of the bunch in this god squad, Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls, holds more than 600 licenses for FM translator stations.
Attempts are also being made to resist the forced adoption of the in-band on-channel (IBOC) digital radio standard: A motion has been filed demanding that the FCC reopen its rulemaking on IBOC. The petition is being sponsored by 34 individuals and organizations and includes licensed amateur radio operators, small-market AM station owners, LPFM licensees, and former microbroadcasters, among many others.
Many in the group filed previous petitions with the FCC during the IBOC confirmation process requesting clarifications to the agency’s research before moving forward on the plan. The FCC ignored most of these, and the petitioners claim its adoption of IBOC before addressing their challenges resulted in a violation of their due process. Actually, the petition makes more than a dozen specific claims as to how the FCC broke or bent rules to ram through the IBOC standard.
“We acknowledge the FCC’s announcement of a future rulemaking,” the petitioners write. “However, this Motion for Rehearing appears to be our final non-judicial opportunity to challenge the selection of IBOC itself.” Whether this actually leads to a court challenge to the FCC’s digital radio decision depends on whether the group can secure legal assistance and funding.