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Supreme Court rules FCC can loosen media ownership regulations

High court found FCC's media ownership policy did not harm minority-owned media outlets, which was alleged by the plaintiff.

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Supreme Court exterior 2
Supreme Court exterior 2
Monte - JTN
Updated: April 1, 2021 - 5:08pm

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The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously upheld a Federal Communication Commission move to relax media ownership rules, handing a win to large broadcasters.

The nine justices found the FCC acted reasonably in its 2017 regulatory rollback, which included scrapping a rule that had barred a single company from owning a radio or TV station along with a newspaper in a single local market, according to The Hill newspaper.

"The FCC considered the record evidence on competition, localism, viewpoint diversity, and minority and female ownership, and reasonably concluded that the three ownership rules no longer serve the public interest," wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The FCC moved forward with its rule change despite incomplete data on the potential impact to minority and female ownership, but the high court found the commission's analysis nevertheless passed legal muster, the newspaper also reported.  

As more media consumers went online for content, the Republican-led FCC in 2017 determined that more consolidation could help owners of traditional media who were increasingly losing out to Internet-based competitors for advertising dollars.

A number of challengers, led by Prometheus Radio Project, sued to block the FCC from easing regulations. A Philadelphia-based federal appeals court sided with the challengers, prompting the FCC’s appeal to the Supreme Court, The Hill also reported.

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