Court tells FCC no to local media consolidation

A win for media policy yesterday.

A decision was handed down in a court case brought against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in regards to their recent attempts at relaxing rules regarding ownership of multiple media platforms in the same market. From the Free Press:

The current case stems from an FCC decision under then-Chairman Kevin Martin in 2007 to lift the 35-year-old ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership. The FCC action prompted court challenges from public interest groups, including Free Press, seeking to encourage more competition and diversity in the media industry, as well as from big media corporations that wanted all of the media ownerships rules thrown out.

Particularly in today’s era of media instability and corporate consolidation, decisions like this mean people are less likely to have all of their media controlled by the same company. This decision also addressed the issue of media access for marginalized populations, which is pretty much abysmal.

The court found that the FCC failed to explain or justify how its proposed policies would promote ownership by women and people of color. The Court cited Free Press comments and research showing that the FCC’s female and minority ownership data was in shambles and said that the FCC “did not address proposals offering race- and gender-neutral means to increase opportunities for minority and female ownership put forward by UCC and Free Press.”

Even without being an expert in media policy, we can understand that consolidation and limited access to forms of media can also mean limited access to a diversity of perspectives and opinions. It’s also important that the Court decision recognizes the importance of media diversity, beyond just the company who owns the platform.

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