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Third Circuit Decision on Media Ownership, July 2011

Third Circuit Decision on Media Ownership, July 2011

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Published by Josh Stearns
On Thursday , the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued its long-awaited verdict on the Federal Communications Commission’s disputed media ownership rules. The court threw out FCC rules that would have allowed one company to own a newspaper and broadcast stations in the same market and upheld the FCC’s decision to retain its other local broadcast ownership restrictions. The court also instructed the FCC to better consider how its rules will affect and can promote ownership by women and people of color.
On Thursday , the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued its long-awaited verdict on the Federal Communications Commission’s disputed media ownership rules. The court threw out FCC rules that would have allowed one company to own a newspaper and broadcast stations in the same market and upheld the FCC’s decision to retain its other local broadcast ownership restrictions. The court also instructed the FCC to better consider how its rules will affect and can promote ownership by women and people of color.

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Published by: Josh Stearns on Jul 07, 2011
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11/06/2012

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Subsection 202(h) of the 1996 Telecommunications Act requires the Commission to

determine whether media concentration rules are ―necessary in the public interest as the
result of competition‖ and to ―repeal or modify any regulation it determines to be no longer
in the public interest.‖ § 202(h), 110 Stat. at 111-12.15

In Prometheus I, we set out our

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Moreover, ―[w]e may not supply a reasoned basis for the agency‘s action that the agency
itself has not given. . . . We will, however, uphold a decision of less than ideal clarity if the
agency‘s path may reasonably be discerned.‖ Id. at 43 (internal quotations and citations
omitted).

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Section 202(h) of the 1996 Telecommunications Act states the following: ―Further
Commission Review
: The Commission shall review its rules . . . and shall determine whether
any of such rules are necessary in the public interest as the result of competition. The
Commission shall repeal or modify any regulation it determines no longer to be in the public

Case: 08-3078 Document: 003110585945 Page: 18 Date Filed: 07/07/2011

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standard of review under § 202(h) in detail. 373 F.3d 390-97. With no need to repeat that
detail here, we note our summary of the § 202(h) standard:

In a periodic review under § 202(h), the Commission is required
to determine whether its then-extant rules remain useful in the
public interest; if no longer useful, they must be repealed or
modified. Yet no matter what the Commission decides to do to
any particular rule—retain, repeal, or modify (whether to make
more or less stringent)—it must do so in the public interest and
support its decision with a reasoned analysis.

Id. at 395. As we did in Prometheus I, ―[w]e shall evaluate each aspect of the Commission‘s
Order accordingly.‖ Id.

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