Common Cause Files Reply Brief Challenging FCC Deregulatory Actions Harming Broadcast Ownership Diversity

On Friday, Common Cause joined Prometheus Radio Project, Media Mobilizing Project, Free Press, Office of Communication, Inc. of the United Church of Christ, and National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America in filing a reply brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit challenging the FCC’s elimination or relaxation of several media ownership rules. The rules prohibited a single entity from owning an excessive number of newspaper, radio, and television entities within a local market.

In the reply brief, the Petitioners explain why they have legal standing to bring this lawsuit before the Court. The Petitioners also note the FCC failed to address their central arguments that the agency failed to consider the impact on broadcast ownership diversity when relaxing or eliminating several of its media ownership rules.

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

“The FCC’s is required to promote competition, localism, and diversity when evaluating its media ownership rules. This includes race and gender diversity in broadcast ownership. Rather than examine the impact of its rules on diversity, the FCC relies on flawed ownership data to justify deregulating media ownership rules and makes excuses for why it cannot do more beyond this. But this reasoning is circular and fails to satisfy the FCC’s core public interest mission – not to harm race and gender diversity in media ownership.

“The FCC’s decision to relax or eliminate media ownership rules is a greenlight for media conglomerates to further consolidate. The FCC has already approved the Gray/Raycom merger, and Nexstar seeks to acquire Tribune. These acquisitions permit common ownership of stations that would not be allowed under the prior rules. More transactions are expected as media giants take advantage of a wild west. All of this comes at the expense of broadcast ownership diversity. The number of women and people of color who own media outlets has been dismally low. How can these communities make their voices heard when they own so little of the media?

“The Third Circuit has told the FCC on multiple occasions to examine how its media ownership rules impact race and gender ownership diversity. The FCC has not only failed to assess the impact of its rules on minority ownership but has also abandoned its rules all together. We urge the Court to reverse this unlawful decision and require the FCC to fulfill its statutory mandate to promote race and gender diversity in media ownership.”

To read the brief, click here.