Supreme Court Lets F.C.C. Relax Limits on Media Ownership

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Supreme Court Lets F.C.C. Relax Limits on Media Ownership

“In short, the F.C.C.’s analysis was reasonable and reasonably explained,” he wrote.

“The F.C.C. considered the record evidence on competition, localism, viewpoint diversity and minority and female ownership, and reasonably concluded that the three ownership rules no longer serve the public interest,” he wrote.

“The F.C.C. reasoned that the historical justifications for those ownership rules no longer apply in today’s media market,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. “The commission further explained that its best estimate, based on the sparse record evidence, was that repealing or modifying the three rules at issue here was not likely to harm minority and female ownership.”

Carmen Scurato, a lawyer with Free Press, an advocacy group that was one of the challengers in the case, said in a statement that “this Supreme Court decision couldn’t come at a worse time, as the country reels from the harmful impact media consolidation has had on communities of color in the United States.”

David Chavern, the president of the News Media Alliance, a trade group, welcomed the ruling.

“The cross-ownership ban is a prime example of an outdated regulation that had shackled the newspaper industry for far too long,” he said in a statement. “The repeal of the ban will generate much-needed investments and cross-platform synergies that will help sustain local news media at a monumental time in our country’s history when local news is needed more than ever.”

Justice Kavanaugh did not address the question of whether female and minority ownership was a relevant factor under the governing statute. In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that it was not.

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“The F.C.C. had no obligation to consider minority and female ownership,” he wrote. He noted, too, that “the F.C.C. has recently questioned the validity of the assumption that ownership diversity promotes viewpoint diversity.”

Adam Liptak


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