The Supreme Court of the United States on Thursday unanimously upheld federal regulators’ decision to ease ownership limits on local media, rejecting a claim that the change would hurt minority and female ownership.
The court said the Federal Communications Commission acted reasonably in 2017 when it modified rules that predated the internet.
The old rules prohibited a single entity from owning a radio or TV station and a daily newspaper in the same media market, limited how many radio and TV stations one company could own in a single market and restricted the number of TV stations a company could operate in one media market.
“The FCC considered the record evidence on competition, localism, viewpoint diversity, and minority and female ownership, and reasonably concluded that the three ownership rules no longer serve the public interest,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the court.
The decision comes as newspaper and broadcasting industries say they need the changes to deal with growing competition from the internet and cable companies.
The FCC adopted the changes on a party-line, 3-2 vote, with three Republican-appointed commissioners in the majority. The dissenting Democratic appointees and other critics said the changes would encourage consolidation and hurt diversity.
A federal appeals court had blocked the changes, prompting the FCC’s appeal to the Supreme Court.
The case is FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project, 19-1231.