Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Antitrust News: Univision Battle May Continue

TheDeal.com has this report:
Activists are poised to ask a federal appeals court to overturn a Federal Communications Commission order allowing Univision Communications Inc. to buy Hispanic Broadcasting Corp.

Though the National Hispanic Policy Institute has yet to make a final decision about whether to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to intervene, Arthur Belendiuk, a lawyer who represents the New York advocacy group, said Tuesday, Sept. 23, he fully expects to force the FCC to defend its order. "This is not the last you have heard of this case," said Belendiuk, a partner in Washington law firm Smithwick & Belendiuk. "There are serious legal flaws in the FCC decision."
NHPI spent months running overtly racist ads encouraging the FCC and other political leaders to stop the Univision-Hispanic Broadcasting merger on political, not legal, grounds. A number of NHPI's ads argued that Univision executives should be punished for their political beliefs, including allegedly supporting California Proposition 187 several years ago (which cut off state welfare funds to illegal immigrants). NHPI, which is led by a Democratic New York State legislator, also pressed Hispanic Democrats in the House to complain that Univision's news programming was too biased in favor of Republicans.

The amazing thing is that "activist groups" are allowed to appeal FCC decisions like this in the first place. A private transaction between two businesses should not be the subject of a third-party lawsuit. But since broadcast licenses are still considered "public property", the courts are forced to entertain these political actions.

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