Court rejects FCC ownership rules in historic victory!
On June 24, 2004, a federal appeals court overturned the FCC’s dramatic loosening of media ownership rules, handing the public a historic victory. The court’s ruling sends the FCC?s controversial rules — which relaxed the limits on newspaper, TV, and radio ownership — back to the drawing board.
The decision is a tremendous victory for media diversity, localism, and for the general public, including the millions of citizens who have been writing, e-mailing and calling the FCC and Congress to protest the FCC’s caving in to Big Media.
The most significant aspects of the court ruling:
- The court rejected the FCC’s rule changes which allowed for “cross-ownership” of newspapers and broadcast stations, and the concentration of broadcast ownership, in local markets. Together, these rules would have allowed one company to own three TV stations, 8 radio stations, and the monopoly newspaper in a single market.
- The court took aim at the FCC’s faulty methodology, including the so-called “diversity index”, used by the agency to measure the influence of different kinds of media on local communities.
- Critically, the court also rejected the FCC’s claim that ownership limits should be removed unless evidence could be shown to warrant their staying in place. The court instead placed the burden of proof on the FCC, stating that unless sufficient evidence can be shown to warrant their removal, media ownership limits should be kept in place.
Now that the court has sent media ownership rules back to the drawing board, we need citizens to step up once again. This time around, let’s make sure the FCC listens to the public, not Big Media lobbyists, when it crafts ownership rules: Demand a public FCC hearing in every state!
Read a summary of the ruling here.
News articles regarding the outcome of the case:
FCC ordered to rewrite rules easing TV station ownership
New York Times:
Court orders rethinking of rules allowing large media to expand
Court rejects rules on media ownership
Court turns back FCC changes
Setback for Big Media
Court nixes new FCC media ownership rules
Broadcasting & Cable:
Commissioners hail media owner ruling
Court throws out FCC’s media ownership rules
The Guardian (UK):
US court blocks media ownership reform
Court overturns FCC ownership caps
Court throws out FCC’s media deregulation package
FCC media ownership rules sent back for agency review
On August 13, 2003, attorneys from the Media Access Project, working with the Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project and a coalition of other groups, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to throw out the media ownership rules modified by the FCC on June 2 ( click here for background on the rule changes). The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stayed the FCC’s order on Sept. 3rd, 2003 — meaning it prevented the new rules from being enforced until court review is complete.
Many of the organizations involved, including MAP and Prometheus, have provided resources on their websites regarding the case.
From the Media Access Project
Report from MAP (PDF)