Court Reverses FCC Cross Ownership Rules

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Philadelphia - Jul 8, 2011 - A U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia has overturned the Federal Communications Commission rule that relaxed limits on cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations. The court says the FCC failed to provide adequate public notice. The court voted 2-1 to have the FCC further consider the rulemaking.

The decision says former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin did not give the public sufficient time to respond to the adopted proposals, so the ownership rules discussion will be back on the table at the FCC. In the meantime, the ruling upholds the current rules so no companies will be required to divest properties.

In 2007, the FCC approved rules to allow companies to own both newspapers and broadcast stations in the largest U.S. cities. In 2008, the FCC adopted a rule that it would consider cross-ownership proposals on a case-by-case basis.

Many broadcasters feel the ownership rules are out of date and do not account for the wide range of media outlets currently available. The Media Access Project argued that the public is entitled to a diverse media environment. NAB Executive VP Communications Dennis Wharton said, "There have been sweeping changes in the media landscape since most of the broadcast ownership rules were adopted decades ago. The NAB believes that modest reform of rules to allow free and local broadcasters to compete successfully in a universe of national pay TV and radio platforms is warranted."

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