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June 24, 2004

Pumping Fist - V-i-c-t-o-r-y

Court throws out FCC’s media deregulation package
By SETH SUTEL | AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court on Thursday largely reversed a controversial deregulation package that the Federal Communications Commission passed last year, handing a victory to public interest groups that had opposed the sweeping changes to media ownership rules.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which is based in Philadelphia, also left in place an order blocking the FCC from putting the rules into effect.

The ruling was a setback to the FCC’s efforts to loosen rules governing media ownership. The deregulation package, which was announced in June 2003, triggered widespread debate in Washington and in the public over the concentration of media ownership by large corporations.

An array of group of public interest groups challenged the FCC’s ruling, saying the rule changes would further limit the diversity of voices on the airwaves and other forms of media.

In their 2-to-1 decision, the judges threw out FCC rules that would have allowed greater ownership of television and radio stations in the same market. However, the judges did say the FCC was within its rights to repeal a blanket prohibition on companies owning both a newspaper and a television station in the same city. [ed. I can think of at least two markets where this already takes place].

Frankly, in the big scheme of things this is more important than Bush's impending loss at the polls. This issue of media ownership, collapsing down to just a few owners, needs to be fought visciously, passionately and with due diligence to what such a limitation can do and has already done to the diversity of voices and reporting that exists today (though weekly newspapers often get overlooked, even many of them are now being "assimilated").

Pumping a fist and giving a finger with the other hand. Nice.