Federal appeals court overturns FCC media ownership rules

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Pai FCC’s decision to eliminate limits on local media ownership. Labor and public interest organizations, including the Communications Workers of America, Common Cause, Free Press, the Media Mobilizing Project, the Prometheus Radio Project, the United Church of Christ Office of Communication, Inc., and the Georgetown Law Institute of Public Representation challenged the FCC’s decision because it did not address its impact on race and gender diversity in broadcasting.

"The Federal Communications Commission has not learned its lesson, even after almost 20 years of litigation about media ownership,” said Cheryl Leanza of the United Church of Christ OC, Inc. “The law says the FCC must consider how its rules impact ownership by women and people of color. The FCC treated its important statutory obligation as less important than a high-school math assignment, and the court gave it a failing grade even at that level.”

This is the fourth time in recent times that the same court has overturned FCC’s deregulation of the media ownership rules. 

The Communications Workers of America, along with its affiliate the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA),has long sought to protect local media ownership rules that ensure viewpoint diversity and protect good jobs in the broadcast industry. NABET-CWA joined this legal challenge as it opposed the Sinclair-Tribune merger, a $3.9 billion deal that would have resulted in significant media consolidation but which was defeated.

Links:

Court Deals Blow to Pai‘s Dereg Efforts (Multichannel, Sep. 23, 2019)

NABET-CWA, Common Cause, Free Press sue to protect media ownership limits (Speed Matters, Mar. 12, 2018)

The Sinclair-Tribune merger is dead (Speed Matters, Aug. 9, 2018)