FCC Media Ownership Rules: Issues for Congress Page: 4 of 22
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FCC Media Ownership Rules:
Issues for Congress
The Federal Communications Commission adopted an order on June 2, 2003
that modified five of its media ownership rules and retained two others.1 The new
rules were scheduled to go into effect on September 4, 2003, but the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Third Circuit stayed implementation of the new rules pending
adjudication of claims that the rules are unlawful. (Prometheus Radio Project v.
FCC, 3rd Cir., No 03-3388, stay issued 9/3/03). Oral argument in that case is
scheduled for February 11, 2004. Because of the potential that changes in these
rules - which set limits on national television ownership, newspaper-broadcast and
radio-television cross-ownership in a market, and ownership of multiple television
or radio stations in a market - could have far-reaching effects, a number of bills have
been introduced in the 108th Congress that reflect a range of positions on these issues.
Congress passed the FY2004 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 108-199, 118
Stat. 3 et. seq.), Sec. 629 of which instructs the FCC to modify its National
Television Ownership rule by setting a 39% cap, requires entities that exceed the
39% cap to divest as needed to come into compliance within two years, prohibits the
FCC from forbearing on application of the 39% cap, requires the FCC to review its
rules every four years instead of two years, and excludes the 39% cap from that
periodic review. This report analyzes each of the areas that have changed as a result
of the FCC action or may change as a result of congressional action. The various
positions in the debate also are summarized.
The Commission had to revisit several of its broadcast ownership rules as a
result of Court rulings that the Commission had failed to provide sufficient
justification for specific thresholds incorporated into the rules. In addition, pursuant
Report and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 2002 Biennial Regulatory Review
- Review of the Commission's Broadcast Ownership Rules and Other Rules Adopted
Pursuant to Section 202 of the Telecommunications Act of1996, MB Docket 02-277; Cross-
Ownership of Broadcast Stations and Newspapers, MM Docket 01-235; Rules and Policies
Concerning Multiple Ownership of Radio Broadcast Stations in Local Markets, MM Docket
01-317; Definition of Radio Markets, MM Docket 00-244; Definition of Radio Markets for
Areas Not Located in an Arbitron Survey Area, MB Docket 03-130, adopted June 2, 2003
and released July 2, 2003. [Hereinafter, "Report and Order"] The Report and Order was
adopted in a three to two vote. All five commissioners released statements on June 2, 2003,
the day that the Commission voted to adopt the item, and also released statements that
accompanied the July 2, 2003 release of the Report and Order. The Report and Order was
published in the Federal Register on September 5, 2003, at 68 FR 46285.
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FCC Media Ownership Rules: Issues for Congress, report, January 30, 2004; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc808831/m1/4/: accessed March 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.