FCC Commissioners and others were reacting Thursday to the news that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals had vacated the FCC's loosening of the newspaper-broadcast crossownership ban (though on procedural grounds), smacked down some of its ownership diversity efforts, and supported the decision not to loosen other ownership regs.
"This decision is a huge victory for the millions of Americans who have gone on record demanding a richer and more diverse media," said FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. "The Third Circuit has brought into clear focus the shortfalls of two previous FCCs on media ownership and their lackluster performances in encouraging more minority and female ownership of our broadcast outlets. "I am pleased that the 2008 newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule, which would have opened the door to more consolidation and less news, has now been returned to the Commission. The rule and the process that brought it forth were highly inimical to media democracy."
Copps, who voted against the 2008 order, has been the FCC's most consistent critic of efforts to deregulate ownership.
Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said the remand of some of the diversity items should be a signal for the FCC to focus on that issue.
"Today's decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to vacate and remand the Commission's 2008 Diversity Order, because it did not take sufficient steps to increase participation in the broadcasting industry by new entrants and small businesses, including minority and women-owned businesses, sends the important message that ownership diversity remains an important aspect of the overall media ownership regulatory framework. As the Court noted, the current Commission has taken steps towards gathering updated studies on ownership diversity as part of its 2010 Quadrennial Review proceeding," she said. "I hope this Court decision will serve to encourage all of us at the Commission to take a laser like focus on the necessary and long awaited need for robust ownership studies and thoughtful recommendations to advance diverse voices in America's media market place."
The Writers Guild of America, which has long been concerned about the impact of media consolidation on its members' job security, saluted the activist groups who had pushed the court to reverse the FCC on the newspaper-broadcast crossownership decision. "We applaud the Media Access Project's success in this case and we look forward to working with the FCC in crafting a new approach to media consolidation and its affect on the public,"said the Guild. MAP represented Prometheus Radio Project. "We recognize the economic challenges faced by news organizations but we do not believe the appropriate response is to permit a relative handful of giant companies to control the market.