WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that the FCC’s legal battle over their ability to loosen media ownership rules will get its day with the highest court in the land. Efforts to overhaul the ownership rules date back to 2003.
With a vote in 2017, the FCC proposed deregulation efforts that would eliminate newspaper-broadcast and the radio-TV cross-ownership rules; allow dual station ownership in markets with fewer than eight independent voices on a case-by-case basis; eliminate attribution of joint sales agreement as ownership; and create a diversity incubator program, as well as other diversity mechanism.
In 2019, however, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied these proposals and sent them back to the FCC on the basis that they “did not adequately consider the effect its sweeping rule change will have on ownership of broadcast media by women and racial minorities.”
The FCC attempted to have the entire Third Circuit Court hear its case, but it was rejected. As a result, in April, the Solicitor General of the U.S. officially asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tweeted in response to the announcement:
Great news: the Supreme Court has granted cert in @FCC v. Prometheus! Hope #SCOTUS affirms authority Congress gave us to amend ownership rules in light of a media marketplace that’s changed dramatically since 1975—especially with local news outlets struggling more than ever. pic.twitter.com/JkGqIra95FOctober 2, 2020
The NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith provided a statement on the news, as the NAB has long been in support of the FCC's efforts:
"NAB looks forward to presenting our case before the Supreme Court this term. For almost two decades, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked common-sense change to outdated broadcast ownership regulations to the detriment of local journalism. This time has come to allow the FCC to modernize its rules."
It is not clear at this time when the case will go before the Supreme Court.
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