Appeals Court Tosses FCC's Media Ownership Rules
from the does-it-really-matter? dept
You may recall that, four years ago, the Kevin Martin FCC pushed through (despite massive complaints from people) some incredibly meek media ownership rule relaxations. As you may know, there were existing rules that said the same company couldn’t own a newspaper along with a local TV station. The reasoning behind this was the fear that a single operator of both the paper news and broadcast news would dominate the local news dissemination business and could influence the public too much. Of course, in the age of the internet, that seems really silly. And the FCC’s rule change was incredibly minor. As we wrote at the time:
In the top 20 media markets, newspapers can merge with a single radio or TV station — but not if that TV station is one of the top 4 stations in that market. In other words, newspapers who are struggling to get beyond just being newspapers can finally expand into other media areas. I can’t understand why people are freaked out about this. At best, a newspaper can now own a tiny radio or TV station. The fear of only one point of view getting through is totally laughable for a variety of reasons. First, there are more sources of media than ever before in history — by a long shot. To think that a single TV station or newspaper can dominate the conversation is laughable. Second, since it can’t involve a top 4 TV station, it’s hard to believe that this new entity will have all that much dominance in the market.
But people still went crazy about this and lawsuits were filed. Over in the Third Circuit, a court has now dumped the new rules on what appears to basically be a technicality. Apparently, the FCC “”failed to meet the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act” to make this change. The standard procedure requires 90 days of response time, but Kevin Martin only gave people 28 days to comment.
Again, this whole thing seems pretty silly. Even if people still rely on broadcast news, this simply isn’t going to have that big of an impact.