Common Cause Applauds Third Circuit Reversal of FCC Media Ownership Deregulation

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a decision vacating and remanding the FCC’s decisions to roll back several of its media ownership rules.  The rules prohibited a single entity from owning too many newspaper, radio, and television stations within a local market. In vacating and remanding the FCC’s decisions, the Third Circuit specifically found that the FCC did not adequately consider the effect rolling back media ownership rules would have on broadcast ownership by women and people of color.  

In December, Common Cause and its allies filed a petitioner’s brief, formally challenging the FCC’s decision to roll back several of its media ownership rules.

Statement of Michael Copps, Former FCC Commissioner and Common Cause Special Adviser  

“The Third Circuit has told the FCC time and time again that it has to examine the impact of changing its media ownership rules would have on ownership diversity. Rather than uphold its statutory mandate to promote race and gender diversity in media ownership, the FCC unlawfully chose to abandon many of its media ownership rules all together. In doing so, the Court correctly found that the FCC used flawed data and woefully insubstantial analysis that does not even begin to consider the impact of its rule changes on diverse ownership. Women and people of color own a dismally low number of broadcast stations in the nation. These communities have struggled to acquire broadcast stations in a highly consolidated industry. The Third Circuit makes clear that the FCC simply can’t turn a blind eye to ownership diversity when changing its media ownership rules.

“The Court’s decision should also put the brakes on big media consolidation. Since the FCC rolled back its rules, several media giants announced plans to merge seeking to take advantage of a wild west. Our democracy suffers when just a few entities own the majority of our media, and the FCC’s media ownership rules are intended to prevent that from happening.    

“Big Media and its captured majority Commissioners who have paved the way for consolidation have had this coming for a long time. It’s a great day for the public interest. We applaud the Third Circuit for reversing the FCC’s unlawful media ownership decisions.”