Once Again, Court Overturns FCC Changes in Media-Ownership Rules

The Third US Circuit Court of Appeals threw out changes to broadcast media ownership rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission in 2017, saying the agency should have looked more closely at potential impacts on minority ownership. The court  said it agreed with public-interest groups that “the Commission did not adequately consider the effect its sweeping rule changes will have on ownership of broadcast media by women and racial minorities.” The court will vacate and remand “the bulk of” the FCC’s actions over the last three years for further consideration by the agency. The changes approved by the FCC in 2017 would have ended or loosened several basic ownership limits in the agency’s rules:

  • Elimination of the longstanding rule that generally prohibited a single individual or company from possessing a daily newspaper and a radio or TV station in the same market.
  • Eliminated a similar rule regarding cross-ownership of radio and TV stations.
  • Make it somewhat easier for a company to own two TV stations in a single market.
  • Elimination of the prohibition on owning two of the top four stations in a market.

Benton Senior Counselor Andrew Schwartzman called the decision “a huge victory for the listening and viewing public.” “The Court of Appeals has found that the FCC has yet again failed to assess how changing its ownership limits affect people of color and women. Diverse ownership benefits everyone, and rejection of the FCC’s deregulation is a small step in restoring a system that promotes such diversity.”


Court Overturns FCC Changes in Media-Ownership Rules Court Deals Blow to Pai Dereg