Today, the Supreme Court issued its decision in FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project (“Prometheus III”). The decision upholds the FCC order that repealed or modified three of its sorely outdated media cross-ownership rules. In November, TechFreedom filed an amicus brief seeking precisely this outcome. 

The cross-ownership rules were issued in a time of great media concentration. They haven’t changed substantially since the 1970s. They aimed to ensure that a single company could not monopolize information in a region by owning (for example) more than one of the area’s major broadcast stations. As the Court’s ruling recognizes, the FCC reasonably concluded that that rationale is now obsolete.

“The Court issued a straightforward ruling deferring to an agency’s expertise,” said Corbin K. Barthold, Director of Appellate Litigation at TechFreedom. “Administrative law allows Congress to delegate authority to agencies. When courts try to snatch that authority for themselves, as the Third Circuit did in the decision below, the system becomes dysfunctional. In its unanimous decision overturning the Third Circuit, the Justices recognized that the FCC carefully investigated the media landscape and, working with the evidence before it, reached the reasonable conclusion that some of the media cross-ownership rules are no longer necessary.”

The cross ownership rules were adopted in a much different media era,” Barthold continued. “As the Court wrote, technological advances, since the rules were adopted, have ‘led to a massive increase in alternative media options, such as cable television and the Internet. Those technological advances challenged the traditional dominance of daily print newspapers, local radio stations, and local television stations.’ The Court correctly ruled that these changes justified the reforms imposed by the FCC. Indeed, those reforms are long overdue.”