DOJ Won’t Push Supremes on Media Case


The Department of Justice will not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision that struck down Federal Communications Commission rules that relaxed restrictions on the ownership of TV stations, radio stations and newspapers in the same market, an FCC spokeswoman said Thursday.

Media interests that supported the FCC's rules nevertheless intend to file an appeal with the high court, but the absence of Bush administration support will make it harder to get the case heard.

"We’re disappointed with reports that the [DOJ] will not be seeking Supreme Court review of media-ownership rules. We continue to believe that the Supreme Court needs to clarify lower-court decisions related to media ownership, and [we’ll] be seeking that review on Monday, Jan. 31,” National Association of Broadcasters president Edward Fritts said in a prepared statement.

The FCC sparked a controversy in June 2003 when it adopted rules that allowed one company to own three TV stations, eight radio stations, the dominant local newspaper and cable systems in the country’s largest markets. The agency also permitted greater media concentration in midsized and small markets.

Last June, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia rejected the bulk of the FCC policies. The rules never took effect because the Third Circuit imposed a judicial stay in September 2003.

“Without support from the government, it is very unlikely that the Supreme Court [will] agree to review last June's Appeals Court decision throwing out the FCC's media-ownership-deregulation policies,” said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, a public-interest attorney who helped to defeat the FCC rules in the Third Circuit.