FCC’s Planned Relaxation of Media Ownership Rules Blocked

A federal appeals court temporarily blocked new FCC rules that would allow large conglomerates to control more of the nation’s media. The ruling, issued by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, blocks the FCC’s relaxation of media ownership rules, including a change that would allow newspapers to acquire TV and radio stations in the same market where they publish. Opponents of the FCC’s far-reaching changes argue that they would decrease diversity of viewpoints in the media. The Third Circuit ruling acknowledged the broad bipartisan opposition to the FCC changes, and noted that without a stay, the harms to the groups requesting the stay, which included Prometheus Radio Project and the watchdog group Media Access Project, would be “irreparable.” “We hope to put the final nail in the coffin of these ill-considered rules,” Mark Cooper, research director for the Consumer Federation of America, told the Associated Press. “The FCC can’t be trusted to promote competition and diversity among media outlets.”

Also this week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would block the FCC’s proposed change to increase the number of television stations media giants could own to reach 45 percent of the nation’s viewers, up from 35 percent. Two networks already exceed the 35 percent limit: Fox (part of the News Corporation) and CBS (part of Viacom), according to the New York Times.

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Prometheus Radio Project v. FCC 9/3/03; New York Times 9/4/03; Associated Press 9/5/03

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