Justia Communications Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
Vermont Public Service Board, et al. v. FCC, et al.
This case involved the FCC's Universal Service Program, which provided subsidies to ensure that low-income consumers, schools, health care providers, and libraries have access to advanced telecommunications services and that rates and services in rural areas were "reasonably comparable" to rates and services in urban areas pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. 254. At issue was the FCC's order declining to increase subsidies under the rural rates and services component of the Universal Services Program. Here, the FCC explained that "reasonable comparability" between rural and urban areas had been largely accomplished and that expansion of the high-cost support fund would "jeopardize other statutory mandates," such as extending services to schools, hospitals, and libraries, and "ensuring affordable rates in all parts of the country." Because of this, and because the FCC had promised to address state-specific issues, like those presented by Vermont and Maine, through the waiver process, its decision to leave the high-cost support mechanism unchanged was neither arbitrary nor capricious. Thus, the court denied the petition for review. View "Vermont Public Service Board, et al. v. FCC, et al." on Justia Law
Environmentel, LLC v. FCC
Petitioner appealed a licensing order of the FCC affirming a decision of the Wireless Bureau denying reconsideration of licensing actions taken by the Wireless Bureau's Mobility Division. The Mobility Division granted Thomas Kurian's request to withdraw a radio spectrum assignment application and dismissed petitioner's notification of consummation of that same assignment. Petitioner argued that the FCC's order should be reversed because the FCC and Kurian engaged in unlawful ex parte communications; the FCC failed to give proper public notice of its decisions to grant Kurian's withdrawal request; and the FCC acted arbitrarily and capriciously in rendering the order. The court held that petitioner waived its ex parte and public notice arguments, and the FCC acted neither arbitrarily nor capriciously in rendering its order affirming the Wireless Bureau's order. View "Environmentel, LLC v. FCC" on Justia Law
Cablevision System Corp. v. Federal Communications Commission, et al.
This action arose under section 628 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. 151, where the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") issued an order adopting rules to close the so-called terrestrial loophole. Petitioners contended that the FCC lacked statutory authority to regulate the withholding of terrestrial programing. The court held that given section 628's broad language and purpose, the court saw nothing in the statute that unambiguously precluded the FCC from extending its program access rules to terrestrially delivered programming. Nor could the court see any merit in petitioners' contention that the FCC's rules violated the First Amendment or in their various Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 500 et seq., challenges, with one exception. The court held however, that the FCC did act arbitrarily and capriciously by deciding to treat certain conduct involving terrestrial programing withholding as categorically "unfair" for purposes of section 628. Accordingly, the court vacated only that portion of the FCC's order and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cablevision System Corp. v. Federal Communications Commission, et al." on Justia Law
MetroPCS California, LLC v. FCC, et al
A California local exchange carrier ("LEC") filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") alleging a violation of 47 C.F.R. 20.11(b) when the LEC unilaterally set a rate and began billing petitioner, a provider of commercial mobile radio services ("CMRS") in California, for the cost of terminating its traffic. At issue was whether the FCC erred in allowing a state agency to determine the rate for traffic that was wholly intrastate pursuant to section 20.11(b). The court held that the FCC's policy of allowing state agencies to set such rates was consistent with the dual regulatory scheme assumed in the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. 151, which granted the FCC authority over interstate communications but reserved wholly intrastate matters for the states.
Glenn Cherry v. FCC
Appellant, a shareholder and former chief executive officer of Tama Broadcasting, Inc. ("Tama"), filed an application for review with the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") challenging the FCC Media Bureau's approval of the assignment applications made by Tama's receiver after a judicial foreclosure action was brought against Tama. At issue was whether appellant had standing under Article III to file an application for review. The court held that appellant lacked standing where his injuries could not be traced to the FCC's approval of the license assignments and where the alleged injuries were caused by Tama's default on its loan payments, the foreclosure action against Tama, and the New York court's appointment of a receiver.