Yesterday, in a very short one page decision, the US Court of Appeals rejected the requests filed by public interest groups to stay the effect of the FCC’s decision to reinstate the UHF discount. While, contrary to some reports, this does not signal the court’s final approval of the FCC’s decision to reinstate the discount, it does suggest the direction which the court is likely to take in its assessment of this FCC decision.
It turns down public interest groups that say the move will “make it easier for the nation’s largest television ownership groups to acquire additional stations, and crowd out diverse and local voices.” The move clears the way for Sinclair’s purchase of Tribune.
The U.S. District Court in Washington has decided that FilmOn could not rely on the compulsory license of Section 111 of the 1976 Copyright Act to retransmit the signals of over-the-air television stations to consumers over the Internet. That puts it at odds with an earlier opinion from a federal court in California that ruled that FilmOn was entitled to the license. “[T]his dispute could be resolved in any number of ways, short of a return trip to the Supreme Court. But it is an issue that will no doubt be revisited in some forum or another in the not too distant future.”
Judges across Massachusetts are sealing court documents with increasing regularity, forcing news organizations and First Amendment groups into costly and time-consuming legal battles to ensure the basic workings of the judicial system remain public.