Appeals of broadcasters, newspaper owners denied.

The Supreme Court today (June 13) denied the appeal of broadcasters and newspaper owners to review FCC ownership rules, keeping in place limitations on the number of radio stations, TV channels and newspapers one company can own in a given market.

Reaction to the decision has fallen along predictable lines. Media watchdogs and critics of media consolidation (and resultant loss of local programming) were pleased. Meanwhile, executives at radio, TV and newspaper conglomerates, who say they need the new rules to compete with cable, satellite and on-line competitors, expressed hopes that new Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin would become an ally on cross-ownership issues.

At issue is further consolidation of US Media companies. As conglomerates have grown larger during the past few years, several studies have confirmed a resultant loss of local programming, including musical options. Former Chairman Michael Powell introduced the proposed removal of market limitations in 2003; days later, more than a dozen watchdog groups challenged the announcement by filing suit. In hearings before Congress, overwhelming numbers of those giving public comment have spoken out in favor of localism.

Newspaper Association of America president/CEO John Sturm said the NAA is "looking forward to the FCC opening a proceeding" to deal with the cross-ownership issue, "because every day that goes by, newspapers face more competition, because every day that goes by there are more media choices."

Michael Bracy, who handles government relations for the indie-artist-driven Future of Music (FMC), says today's denial "symbolizes the end of the traditional way that media policies have been made in this country." He said he hopes "that the Commission will move forward with a transparent and open dialogue with the public about the decisions that have such an impact on how citizens receive their news, information and entertainment."

Republican Martin issued a written statement following the decision, revealing little about likely policy directions. Referring to the earlier decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit that rejected the rules and told the commission to start from scratch, Martin wrote, "I am now looking forward to working with all of my colleagues as we reevaluate our media ownership rules."

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