Today the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the appeal issue of the Third Circuit’s reversal of the Federal Communication Commission’s (“FCC”) relaxed media ownership rules. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia last year again rejected the FCC’s most recent efforts to relax the media ownership rules which sought to eliminate a ban on cross-ownership of newspapers. The FCC had also voted to make it easier to own additional TV stations in the same market, for joint sales agreements, and to own additional radio stations in some markets. The Third Circuit found that the FCC, “did not adequately consider the effect its sweeping rule changes will have on ownership of broadcast media by women and racial minorities.”
While this decision will clearly have a significant impact on the FCC’s ownership rules, the legal issues involved made those impacts somewhat difficult to predict. The potential outcome may also be greatly impacted by the outcome of this November’s elections, changes to the Supreme Court, and changes among the FCC’s Commissioners. We are working through some of those issues and will have a more detailed analysis soon.