Media Ownership Rules Don't Make Sense in Today's Marketplace | Citizens Against Government Waste
The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Media Ownership Rules Don't Make Sense in Today's Marketplace

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


The government has thousands of outdated rules that must be streamlined and modernized to accommodate progress spurred by innovation.  Nowhere is this more valid than at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has been taking the lead in modernizing the rules governing telecommunications. 

The FCC’s media ownership rules were created in 1975 to block the ownership of both newspaper and broadcast services by one organization in a media market.  For the past 20 years, Congress has mandated that the FCC review its media ownership rules and revise or repeal the rules that are no longer necessary.  But for the past 15 years, every attempt to comply with the will of Congress has been fruitless, mostly due to the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Third Circuit Court) blocking any attempts by the FCC to modernize the media ownership rules.

In 2017, the FCC eliminated rules that prohibited common ownership of a full-power broadcast station and a daily newspaper within the same coverage area to accommodate the technical innovations that are rapidly making these rules obsolete.  On September 23, 2019, in Prometheus Radio Project v. the FCC (Prometheus III), the Third Circuit Court decided that the new rule was invalid.  With online access to nearly every newspaper in the country, and competitive online radio and video services removing the borders that define a locality, the Third Circuit Court decided the standards that were created in 1975 are still applicable.  The court’s decision makes no sense.

Continuing the media ownership rules put in place back in 1975 isn’t groovy.  The FCC filed a petition on November 7, 2019, asking for a rehearing before the full Third Circuit Court so the FCC can update and modernize media regulations to reflect the modern, competitive marketplace for news and entertainment.

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