U.S. Supreme Court lets FCC loosen media ownership rules
(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday cleared the way for the Federal Communication Commission to loosen local media ownership restrictions, handing a victory to broadcasters in a ruling that could facilitate industry consolidation as consumers increasingly move online.
In a unanimous ruling, the justices overturned a lower court decision that had blocked the FCC’s repeal of some media ownership regulations in 2017 for failing to consider the effects on ownership by racial minorities and women. Critics of the industry have said further consolidation could limit media choices for consumers.
The justices acted in appeals by the FCC, companies including News Corp, Fox Corp and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc and the National Association of Broadcasters.
The associations for other broadcast networks’ local affiliates, including ABC, NBC and CBS, backed the appeals, arguing that consolidation would help ensure the economic survival of local television amid heavy competition from internet companies that provide video content.
Broadcast television stations have said they are increasingly losing advertising dollars to digital platforms.
The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had thwarted the FCC’s efforts to revise the rules since 2003 in a series of decisions.
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