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Common Cause to SCOTUS: Protect Media Ownership By Upholding Third Circuit Ruling

Common Cause
(Image credit: Common Cause)

WASHINGTON—Common Cause is backing the U.S. Third Circuit Court in its upcoming court case against the FCC regarding media ownership rules set to be heard by the Supreme Court, arguing that the FCC’s efforts will do more to harm media ownership diversity than help.

Common Cause joined Prometheus Radio Project, Movement Alliance Project, Free Press, Office of Communication Inc. of the United Church of Christ and National Association Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers in a brief filed to the Supreme Court. 

The brief argues that SCOTUS should affirm the Third Circuit’s decision that the FCC was “arbitrary and capricious in deregulating media ownership rules without considering what effect it would have one broadcast ownership by women and people of color.”

The FCC has fought this ruling, claiming that its proposal not only updates media ownership rules that it calls out-of-date, but also creates an incubator program to promote diversity in media. After a number of appeal attempts, the commission ultimately brought the case before SCOTUS. 

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The brief submitted by Common Cause and the other organizations believe, however, that the Third Circuit correctly identified flawed data in the FCC’s proposal that does adequately consider the impact of its rules change on diverse media ownership.

Former FCC Commissioner and Common Cause Special Adviser Michael Copps made the following statement regarding the case:

“The Third Circuit rejected bad FCC media ownership rule changes four times because each time the agency ignored the Court’s demand for evidence and a reasoned explanation of how rule changes would impact broadcast ownership diversity. Rather than do its job, the FCC is now seeking a bail out from the Supreme Court to push for greater media consolidation at the expense of ownership diversity. Based on existing data, we know the number of broadcast stations owned by women and people of color is abysmally low as media conglomerates continue to consolidate. Women and people of color have struggled to acquire broadcast stations in an industry that’s been consolidated for far too long.

“Our democracy suffers when just a few entities own the majority of our media and there is no diversity in ownership. The FCC’s media ownership rules are intended to prevent that from happening. We urge the Supreme Court to uphold the Third Circuit’s decision and require the FCC to once and for all fulfill its statutory mandate to promote race and gender diversity in media ownership.”

The full brief is available online