COURT HALTS FCC MEDIA OWNERSHIP RULE CHANGES

Three-Judge Panel Orders Stay While Legal Issues Are Argued

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- The Federal Communications Commission's new media ownership rules were stayed indefinitely today by a
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three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a three-page order, the court accepted the argument by consumer groups that doing nothing while courts debate the merits of the FCC's changes could create harm impossible to reverse. The petition was filed by the Prometheus Radio Project.

Return to old rules
The court action could put the new ownership rules on hold and keeps current rules in effect pending further court action.

The ruling represents a big win for consumer groups that have filed several suits challenging the new rules.

FCC 'disappointed'
An FCC spokesman in a statement tonight said: "While we are disappointed by the decision by the court to stay the new rules, we will continue to vigorously defend them and look forward to a decision by the court on the merits."

The Prometheus Radio Project is represented by the Media Access Project , a group that has aggressively campaigned against the media ownership rule changes.

'Great news'
"I think this is great news," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who is leading congressional efforts to implement a rarely used congressional veto of the rules. "It stops the process dead in its tracks for now. I think the court must have understood what we know -- the FCC embarked on these dramatic rule changes without the benefit of national hearings and thoughtful analysis."

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