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FCC Media Ownership Changes on Hold

Opponents of the FCC approved changes in media ownership regulations got a reprieve Sept. 3, 2003 when a federal judicial panel temporarily blocked the rules from taking effect as they were scheduled to the following day, Sept. 4. A three-judge panel of the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania issued a stay order preventing the regulatory agency from loosening ownership rules pending further proceedings.

Andrew Jay Schwartzman, exec director of the Media Access Project, said that they were, pleased by that they knew that a lot of work was ahead of them, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. He said the order was granted under the special circumstances of the case and that, the tide has turned.

Many media watchdog groups, concerned citizens and even a loud cross-party group in the U.S. Congress have been trying to find ways to overturn the Republication-lead FCC decision many assumed would lead to a new series of mergers as media companies seek to expand and enter into new combinations in local markets across the U.S.

Changes the FCC on June 2 made included raising the percentage of the nation's TV households one company can reach from 35% to 45%. It lifted a 28-year band on allowing newspaper and broadcast combinations in larger markets and would allow one company to own more radio stations locally. The vote split along party lines 3-2, with three Republication commissioners voting for the change and two Democrats objecting.