Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

by
After the Commission held that petitioners engaged in a scheme designed to collect millions of dollars in unwarranted long-distance access charges from AT&T, petitioners challenged the Commission's award of damages to AT&T and statements in the Commission's decision that referred to the merits of the companies' state law claims against AT&T. The DC Circuit held that the Commission's damages award was permissible and that the Commission's conclusion that petitioners did not render any service to AT&T chargeable under the Communications Act was supported by substantial evidence in the record. However, insofar as the Commission reached and decided any questions of state law or the merits of petitioners' quantum meruit claims, those parts of the decision were without legal effect and vacated in relevant part. View "All American Telephone Co. v. FCC" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners challenged two related but more recent orders from the FCC adopting procedures for an auction designed to make more room on the electromagnetic spectrum for mobile broadband (wireless network) providers. The D.C. Circuit dismissed in part and denied in part the petition for review of the Commending Operations and Channel-Sharing orders. The court held that, insofar as petitioners challenge rules for the repacking process that originated with the Auction Order, their challenges were barred. In regard to the Channel-Sharing Order, the court held that this order was neither arbitrary nor unfounded. In this case, the order sets only modest goals and adopts means that common sense tells the court will advance those goals. Finally, the court lacked jurisdiction over petitioners' final claim against the Channel-Sharing Order: that it flouts the Regulatory Flexibility Act. View "Free Access & Broadcast Telemedia v. FCC" on Justia Law

by
The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Nueva's application to the FCC for a license to construct and operate a Lower Power FM Radio (LPFM) station in Philadelphia. Because Nueva's interpretation of a Blog Post authored by the Chief of the Media Bureau, which was intended to give guidance to applicants, was not correct, the court affirmed the Commission's denial of the application for review without reaching Nueva's claim that the Blog Post was binding upon the Commission. In this case, the Commission's interpretation of the Blog Post was not arbitrary and capricious. The court also held that Nueva forfeited its argument that it did not have fair notice of the Commission's interpretation of the Blog Post. View "Nueva Esperanza, Inc. v. FCC" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners sought review of the FCC's order reversing a decades-old, rebuttable presumption that determined whether state and local franchising authorities may regulate cable rates. Under its new Order, the Commission presumes there is Competing Provider Effective Competition and places the burden upon the franchising authority that wants to regulate basic cable rates to prove there is not effective competition in its area. The D.C. Circuit denied the petition for review and held that the Commission's use of a rebuttable presumption to comply with the statutory requirement that it make a finding on the state of competition in each franchise area was a permissible construction of the statutory requirement that the Commission find effective competition before terminating rate regulation; the Commission reasonably interpreted the Communications Act to allow, after a finding of effective competition, termination of existing certifications without having to wait for a petition of the kind referenced in 47 U.S.C. 543(a)(5); and the court rejected arguments regarding the STELA Reauthorization Act. The court also held that the Commission's rule was not arbitrary nor capricious. View "National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors v. FCC" on Justia Law

by
Petitioners challenged the Commission's order that set permanent rate caps and ancillary fee caps for interstate inmate calling services (ICS) calls. After the presidential inauguration in January 2017, counsel for the FCC advised the court that, due to a change in the composition of the Commission, "a majority of the current Commission does not believe that the agency has the authority to cap intrastate rates" under section 276 of the Communications Act of 1934. Consequently, the DC Circuit granted in part and denied in part the petitions for review, remanding for further proceedings. The court also dismissed two claims as moot. The court held that the order's proposed caps on intrastate rates exceed the FCC's statutory authority under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 Act; the use of industry-averaged cost data as proposed in the Order was arbitrary and capricious because it lacked justification in the record and was not supported by reasoned decisionmaking; the order's imposition of video visitation reporting requirements was beyond the statutory authority of the Commission; and the order's proposed wholesale exclusion of site commission payments from the FCC's cost calculus was devoid of reasoned decisionmaking and thus arbitrary and capricious. View "Global Tel*Link v. FCC" on Justia Law