PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE |April 19, 2021
City of Eugene, OR v FCC
Attorneys for ACM and municipal interests made oral arguments last Thursday in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in City of Eugene, OR v FCC
– our appeal of the FCC’s Franchise Order from 2019. You can hear the arguments – which were conducted virtually – here.
It’s hard to predict how the judges in the case will rule. They asked hard questions of all parties and they are generally seen as a court that is sympathetic to the Commission. Our attorneys at Spiegel McDiarmid think that given this panel’s previous hostility to local governments’ arguments
challenging the FCC’s decisions in this docket, the argument went no worse than expected (although not much better than expected, either).
The judges seemed to particularly question the Commission’s ability to preempt local authority on taxation of non-cable related services. Additionally, Judge Kethledge seemed to dislike the FCC’s ruling valuing franchise obligations at “Fair Market Value” as determined by the cable industry rather than at cost.
We’ll let you know when the Court makes a decision and how it impacts your work and our field. For example, if the court upholds the FCC’s ruling that PEG capacity requirements are an “assessment”, the FCC still can rule that PEG capacity requirements fall within the PEG capital cost exception (as do other requirements).
Our thanks go to Tim Lay, Jeff Bayne and Jim Horwood for their work on our behalf.
Annenberg School Professor - Victor Pickard
Annenberg School professor Victor Pickard, author of the recent book Democracy Without Journalism? put forward a persuasive column in the The Hill newspaper this weekend, calling for investments in local journalism from the Federal government.
The collapse of the local news industry in America is having disastrous impacts on the ability for local communities to understand the world around us – but the scope of the change is important to understand too. The workforce supplying local news and information in the US has dropped by HALF since the turn of the century. We are hollowing out the local information infrastructure in America.
There is growing concern about the problem in Washington – and there will be a reintroduction of Senator Brian Schatz’s Future of Local News Commission Act soon. ACM has been a supporter of the effort. Click here for a link to the text of last year’s bill.
Our partners at PEN America will be asking folks around the country to speak out in favor of the effort on May 3rd – World Press Freedom Day. We’re supporting their effort and will be asking our members to support the Act when it’s introduced soon and promote it to your communities. Mark your calendar for May 3, and we’ll forward information to you soon so you can promote the effort too.