Says 'no sound reason' for hold on radio rules.

U.S. communications regulators have asked a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision putting on hold new, tighter radio ownership limits, according to a copy of the petition obtained on Monday.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission tightened the limits on radio ownership more than a year ago by redefining the market areas and including non-commercial radio stations when considering acquisitions in a market.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit agreed with those decisions but questioned the FCC ruling to keep the same limits on how many stations in a market one company can own and stayed the new rules in their entirety.

"There are no sound reasons for maintaining the stay of the local radio ownership rules," the FCC said in its Aug. 6 filing. "The only effect of the stay ... is to prevent the commission from implementing other rule changes that this court upheld."

FCC commissioners and lawmakers have been particularly concerned about radio companies like Clear Channel Communications Inc., the biggest radio station owner with about 1,200, owning all of the stations in a market.

In radio markets with at least 45 stations, a company can own up to eight stations, but a maximum of five may be in the same band, AM or FM. In markets with 14 or fewer radio stations, an entity can own up to five stations with no more than three in the same band.

The agency last year adopted new rules that tightened the radio ownership rules but relaxed other regulations that allowed media conglomerates to own a newspaper, up to three television stations and some radio outlets in some markets.

Only in the smallest markets did the agency bar ownership of television and radio stations by companies that own newspapers. The appeals court said the FCC did not adequately justify those new limits either and must address its concerns.

The court put the new rules on hold pending agency action but the petition filed on Friday does not address the cross-ownership rules.

Tribune Co., an owner of newspapers and television stations, last month filed its own request with the appeals court asking that the stay on the cross-ownership ban be lifted in the largest markets, noting that the court agreed with the FCC's decision to lift its complete ban.