America's News Media Alliance has welcomed a Supreme Court decision which repeals 1970s rules on media cross-ownership.
The unanimous decision in Prometheus Radio Project vs FCC upholds 2017 reforms that streamlined and modernised Federal Communications Commission rules, including one that banned the ownership of a newspaper and a television or radio station in the same market.
NMA president and chief executive David Chavern said the cross-ownership ban was a prime example of an outdated regulation that had shackled the newspaper industry for far too long. "The repeal of the ban will generate much needed investments and cross-platform synergies that will help sustain local news media at a monumental time in our country's history when local news is needed more than ever."
In 2019, the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit invalidated the FCC's 2017 reforms, blocking the 2017 repeal order. The Alliance and other industry stakeholders had petitioned for Supreme Court review of the Third Circuit's decision, arguing that the decades old cross-ownership ban, implemented to prevent one information source from being too dominant in a community, no longer applies to today's diverse media landscape. The Supreme Court granted review last fall, heard oral argument in January, and issued its decision reversing the Third Circuit this week.
"Since 2002, in response to a Congressional mandate to review its ownership rules, the FCC has attempted to change the cross-ownership rule twice, but each time, the Third Circuit blocked that change on unrelated procedural grounds," Chavern said. "Ironically, the Court that preserved the rule banning media cross-ownership is the same one that concluded in 2003 that the ban was no longer in the public interest."