Opponents of Media De-regulation Get Their Day in Court
With the Media Access Project serving as attorneys, Capitol Broadcasting Company and others who banded together in bringing a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission’s loosening of media regulations in the US Court of Appeals, got a chance to plead their case on Wednesday, February 11, 2004. A three-judge panel for the Third Circuit US Court of Appeals in Philadelphia heard arguments on both sides for eight hours, five longer than planned.
CBC’s attorneys made the argument against the UHF discount allowing UHF stations to be counted at 50% of their reach toward the national ownership cap, while arguments against other aspects of media deregulation were divided among those joining CBC in the lawsuit.
CBC partnered with a coalition of watchdog groups including the Communications Workers of America, Consumers Union, US Catholic Conference of Bishops and Parents TV Council, in the filing.
“There is truly potential here for one company to have significant dominance of public discourse,” said Angela Campbell, a lawyer for the coalition including CBC.
“With a few entrepreneurs controlling television-and inevitably driving up prices and limiting choices for consumers-eventually, policy makers are going to wake up and see that they allowed the deregulation of media to go way too far,” said Senior Public Policy Director for Consumers Union Gene Kimmelman.
The group filed the lawsuit in August 2003 after the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 in favor of relaxed regulations for media ownership in June. The Third Circuit granted a stay on the implementation of the new rules until the court could make its own ruling.
The court will mostly likely hand down its decision in the spring.
On the same day both the Senate Commerce Committee and House Commerce Committee, in separate meetings, grilled FCC commissioners and media owners about the broadcast decency.