U.S. Appeals Court Overturns FCC Media Cross-Ownership Rule

Published August 26, 2011

On July 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit overturned a 2008 Federal Communications Commission regulation allowing greater same-city media market cross-ownership. The court, citing a lack of sufficient time for public opinion and notice, called for the issue to be restudied by the FCC.

“In the U.S., while no single company has as large a market share on the news, concentration of media under fewer hands has led to self-censorship, degradation of news standards and a dearth of investigative journalism,” said Rajesh Goel, chief technology officer at Brainlink International, Inc.

Goel continued: “As the WikiLeaks saga has shown, the U.S. media establishment has been remarkably silent or complicit in ignoring issues of national and international interest to focus on sensationalist non-issues. This ruling is a very small first step in a long journey towards reclaiming the Fourth Estate from corporate self-interest and self-imposed restraint,” he said.

John Bambenek, chief forensic examiner for Bambenek Consulting in Champaign, Illinois, however, disagrees with Goel’s assessment. “Media ownership rules are largely a red herring as the primary criteria when it comes to news media is whether the public is informed,” he said

“At a time when the revenue from news media is plummeting, cross-ownership was the best way to achieve economies of scale to help these institutions stay afloat. The reality is that the explosion of new media outlets has filled the gap where traditional media has left out and – even in places where traditional media is not doing the job – citizen journalists are picking up the slack.”

Krystle Russin ([email protected]) writes from Texas.