Cities and municipalities throughout the U.S., represented by the National Association of Counties, the National Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and other groups, filed suit Tuesday against FCC rules that limit the processing of local video franchise applications and that impose other restrictions on local franchising. By a 3-2 vote, the FCC decided last December to impose a 90-day limit on the processing of new video franchise applications filed by entities (such as the Bell companies) that already possess authority to operate facilities within public rights-of-way. (For other competitive applicants, the processing deadline is six months from the date of filing.) The order also caps franchise fees paid to local governments at 5% of gross revenues and spells out potential local franchise conditions that the FCC deems to be “unreasonable.” Petitions against the video franchising order were filed this week at various appellate venues that include the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, the Fourth Circuit Court in Richmond, the Sixth Circuit Court in Cincinnati, and the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. (The cases will likely be consolidated, with the ultimate appeals court venue to be decided by lottery.) Arguing that the FCC overstepped its authority and that the new rules violate the Fifth and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the petitioners charge that the order “ignores local interests” and “provides regulatory advantages for a few of the largest telecommunications companies in the country.” The groups also warned that the order “would lead to a tremendous reduction in the revenues received by local governments for use of their rights-of-way, as well as loss of cable services to many governmental buildings and schools.” As a spokesman for the FCC maintained “we have acted within the authority we have,” AT&T defended the agency’s decision as one “that establishes reasonable time frames for localities to negotiate the terms of competitive entry for new video providers, while protecting legitimate local interests.”