1970s-Era Rule has Restricted Investments in Local News
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court today (10:00 a.m. ET) will hear oral arguments in Federal Communications Commission v. Prometheus Radio Project, a case concerning whether a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation that prohibits the cross-ownership of a daily newspaper and broadcast station in a local market should be repealed. The 1970s-era rule – implemented when local newspapers and broadcasters were a main source of local news media – was originally intended to prevent one information source from being too dominant in a community. However, in today’s competitive media environment, it is irrelevant and harms local news outlets, and in turn, the communities they serve.
The FCC, as required by statute to periodically review its ownership regulations and appeal any that are no longer necessary due to competition, adopted wide-ranging reforms in 2017, including eliminating the 45-year-old ban on media cross-ownership, concluding that it is no longer needed and harms newspapers by blocking access to needed investments. However, in 2019, the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down the FCC’s 2017 reforms.
The News Media Alliance, along with other industry stakeholders, petitioned the Supreme Court for review of the Third Circuit’s decision and filed opening and reply briefs arguing in support of reinstating the FCC’s 2017 reforms, including repeal of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule and in October 2020, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
News Media Alliance President & CEO, David Chavern, stated, “Anyone who still thinks that local newspapers and broadcasters dominate the distribution of news content – or advertising, for that matter – just hasn’t been paying attention. The cross-ownership rules are the very definition of ‘old and outdated regulation.’ We trust that the Supreme Court will recognize that the FCC responded to Congressional direction by repealing rules that were no longer in the public interest.”
Since 2002, the FCC has repeatedly attempted to reform the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule, but each time, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked the FCC’s changes on unrelated grounds. Ironically, the Third Circuit Court that preserved the cross-ownership ban agreed in 2003 that the ban was no longer in the public interest, and in 2016, admonished the FCC for failing to act to revise it.
The News Media Alliance is a nonprofit organization representing more than 2,000 news organizations and their multiplatform businesses in the United States and globally. Alliance members include print, digital and mobile publishers of original news content. Headquartered near Washington, D.C., in Arlington, Va., the association focuses on ensuring the future of news media through communication, research, advocacy and innovation. Information about the News Media Alliance (formerly NAA) can be found at www.newsmediaalliance.org.
Members of the News Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.