WASHINGTON, DC—A federal court has upended the FCC’s recent loosening of newspaper/broadcast and television/radio cross-ownership restrictions. The Third Circuit’s decision means that the FCC’s current 2018 Quadrennial Review, which seeks to eliminate many current radio station ownership restrictions, could be delayed or changed.
Womble Bond Dickinson Telecom attorney John Garziglia writes about the Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ bombshell decision for Radio Ink. The ongoing Prometheus Radio Project v. FCC dispute has lasted more than 15 years and with this latest court ruling, the end is not in sight.
In striking down the FCC’s deregulation efforts, the court ruled that the FCC failed to meet its obligation “to adequately consider the effect its 2017 rules would have on ownership of broadcast media by women and racial minorities.” The judges admonished the FCC for what it deemed “analysis…so insubstantial that it would receive a failing grade in any introductory statistics class” regarding the impact on minority and women-owned media.
The current 2018 Quadrennial Review proposes to eliminate many current ownership restrictions limiting how many radio stations a single owner can control in the same market. But Garziglia says that if the FCC isn’t able to show substantive data on how this proposal will affect minority and women ownership, the proposed ownership rule changes aren’t likely to pass legal muster.
“The Prometheus decision concludes that ‘the Commission must provide a substantial basis and justification for its actions whatever it ultimately decides.’ This is a standard that, at least according to the Third Circuit, the Commission has failed to fulfill for the past 15 years,” Garziglia writes.
John Garziglia represents radio and television broadcasters, offering personalized assistance in all areas of communications and telecommunications law including transactional and contract negotiations for broadcast station mergers and acquisitions, the securing of financing, governmental auctions of new frequencies, license renewals, new stations applications, facility changes, facility upgrades, licensing, and compliance with FCC rules, regulations and policies.