Last week, as we noted in our weekly summary of regulatory actions of importance to broadcasters, the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an Order directing the FCC to complete its 2018 Quadrennial Regulatory Review of its broadcast ownership rules by December 27, 2023, or show cause why the National Association of Broadcasters’s (NAB) Petition for Writ of Mandamus should not be granted. The NAB’s petition, filed in April 2023, requests that the D.C. Circuit compel the FCC to conclude the agency’s still-pending 2018 review. Neither last week’s order, nor any mandamus order that could be issued by the Court should the FCC fail to finish its review by December 27, will compel any particular decision. Instead, such an order would only require that the FCC finish the review started in 2018 (see our article here on the start of that review process).
The Quadrennial Review process is mandated by Congress. Every four years, the FCC is required to review its local ownership rules and determine which ones remain in the public interest. The NAB’s argument to the Court has been that the FCC failed to meet its statutory obligation by not completing the 2018 review last year. In December, we wrote about the FCC’s failure to complete the Quadrennial Review, and how the inaction has forestalled any review of the issues that were teed up in that review. What were those issues?