The Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Solicitor General have decided not to ask for Supreme Court review of an appeals court's rejection last year of the FCC's controversial media-ownership rules, a
Justice Department spokesperson said.
An FCC that was divided along party lines in
June 2003 enacted rules easing local and national media-ownership rules. The changes included repeal of a ban on cross-ownership of broadcast stations and newspapers in most markets, sought by Tribune Co. (TRB) and Gannett Co. (GCI).
June 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia overturned parts of those rules, criticizing the FCC's method of determining when deregulation can be justified.
I'm not sure what the law is on this stuff, but I'd be surprised if the FCC's original ruling didn't violate some the letter or spirit of some Congressional statute or other.
What really interests me, though, is that it assures that Michael Powell's soon-to-be-over chairmanship of the FCC goes down in history as one of the most ridiculous. He spent a long time worrying about Janet Jackson's nipple, Howard Stern's language, and whether it's ok to suggest that a white woman might have sex with a black football player; but he failed, in the end, to accomplish his major partisan goal of media consolidation among a handful of republicans donors. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that he didn't succeed. But I have to say that I think it's pretty pathetic.