July 21, 2010 / 10:36 PM / 9 years ago

CORRECTION - - US FCC defends media ownership rule authority

* Appeals court brief defends right to change rules

* Commissioner Copps decries evisceration of limits

NEW YORK, July 21 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators called on a federal appeals court to deny petitions for a review of media ownership rules that were loosened in 2008.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julian Genachowski said the brief, filed Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, defended the agency’s authority to make the changes to media ownership rules but made no comment on the substance of the rule changes.

The changes, made before Genachowski was appointed last year, would make it easier for cross ownership of different types of media outlets in the same city or region.

The change has been challenged by various parties who argue that a so-called “pro-consolidation” interpretation of the rules will lead to abuse by powerful concerns if for example the same organization controls both the main local newspaper, radio station and TV station in a small city.

But others have argued that the commission could have gone further in loosening the rules as technological advances like the Internet make such rules outdated. The court is currently listening to both sides.

“The review requires us to look at any changed facts in the marketplace based on a record which the Commission is now assembling, while ensuring that our rules promote the lasting public interest goals of competition, localism, and diversity,” said Genachowski in a statement.

But FCC Commissioner Michael Copps criticized the FCC’s 155-page brief to the court.

“We have had 18 months to reconsider the awful vote that loosened our newspaper-broadcast cross ownership rules, but the best we can do, judging from today’s brief, is to kick the media ownership can farther down the road,” said Copps in a statement.

Copps, who is a Democrat, said the FCC has in the past encouraged “the evisceration of our media ownership limits and abandoning our most basic public interest responsibilities regarding radio and television.”

He said he would redouble efforts to move the issue to the top of the FCC’s agenda and change it in the months ahead. (Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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