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Court today blasts FCC’s attempt to relax ownership rules, says it hurts minority ownership

Congratulations are in order to my friends over at my old job at The Institute for Public  Representation at Georgetown University Law Center and to the  Media Access Project for their resounding victory on behalf of Free Press, Media Alliance and Prometheus Radio Project! Today, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision requiring the FCC to continue to consider diversity of viewpoints and owners as part of its ongoing public interest obligation.

Large media owners had attempted to save an FCC rule that would have permitted big conglomerates to own a daily newspaper and several broadcast stations in one local market. The court upheld a decision that declared that provision impermissible and not in the interest of the public.  It noted that relaxation of its media ownership limits would severely hurt minority media ownership.

The court also told the FCC to better consider how its rules will affect and can promote ownership by women and people of color and blasted it for failing to accumulate data on diversity in the media. A copy of the decision can be found HERE!

What a great day for Media Diversity! Tim Karr has an excellent summation of the decision on his HuffPost Blog!

He cited Free Press research from 2007 which revealed FCC’s  refusal to foster minority ownership of radio and television stations.  “Racial or ethnic minorities own just 7.7 percent of all full-power commercial broadcast radio stations and just 3.26 percent of all TV stations, though they account for 33 percent of the U.S. population,”  Karr wrote.

Karr also summarized the reactions of some of the players in the case:

The decision is a sweeping victory for the public interest. The court rejected arguments made by broadcast and newspaper giants while exposing the FCC’s repeated failures to rein in runaway consolidation.

“We won on almost every point,” said Andrew Schwartzman, Senior Vice President and Policy Director of Media Access Project, who argued before the court against the FCC’s rules.

“This decision is a vindication of the public’s right to have a diverse media environment… Now that the Court has directed the FCC to make sure the public is not ignored, we can look forward to having a right to meaningful participation as the FCC looks at these questions again.”

“The court wisely concluded that competition in the media – not more concentration – will provide Americans with the local news and information they need and want,” said Corie Wright, Free Press policy counsel, who also argued the case on behalf of a coalition of public advocacy groups.

Read more at on Timothy Karr’s blog at The Huffington Post

“The decision is a sweeping victory for the public interest,” he wrote. Indeed, it is!

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