TV License Wars - Episode Two: CMA Strikes Back

Posted by Mitchell - January 23, 2006 (entry 399)

The license challenge that CMA filed in November 2005 was just one in a series of steps involved in the process of challenging a TV station license (or, in our case, nine such licenses).

After about 20 days (or longer, in our case), the stations have a chance to respond to the challenge. This is where the stations' public interest committments and well-reasoned arguments get to shine. Or, in the case of U.S. TV stations, it's the very-high-paid legal equivalent of a temper tantrum.

By law, the stations have to copy us in on the response to the challenges. Some stations addressed both CMA's license and the challenge that was filed by Third Coast Press with the same simultaneous response. The aggregate response to both petitions made for a lot of dead trees (about some 800 pages of aggregate responses).

We'll have to share the aggregate responses someday; it's really illustrative of the rigged game of three-card monte that passes for media policy in the United States. As a taste, we can share this response from WGN filed in response to an informal objection filed by CMA member Steve Macek.

Then we as the challenging party get to counter-respond. CMA completed its counter response last week, and we've got the go-ahead from our legal counsel to post the response. Here then is CMA's response filed before the FCC.

Now, with the counter-response filed, we wait for the FCC to take all the points under consideration and deliver its response. A warning: This is probably going to take a while -- a matter of a few months at best, perhaps much longer.

By the way, there's talk that the final seat on the FCC will be filled by some telecom lawyer (who, ironically enough, lobbies against some of the bigger telecom players). This could prove key in the fights ahead on the question of net neutrality.

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