(RepublicanInformer.com)- On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission could begin relaxing rules that restrict single-company ownership of various media outlets in one community.
This ruling, in essence, opens up the possibility for more consolidation within the media industry. The decision was unanimous.
The ruling overturned one from a lower court that was blocking the FCC from carrying out an effort to repeal cross-ownership rules as they pertain to some media companies. That effort was initiating during the Trump administration.
Industry executives were arguing that consolidation in single markets would help them remain competitive, as potential audiences continue to seek out news on online sources.
Conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the opinion for the court. He said the limits that were placed on cross ownership in local markets came when sources for media were much more limited than they are today. He wrote:
“The FCC considered the record evidence on competition, localism, viewpoint diversity, and minority and female ownership, and reasonably concluded that the three ownership rules no longer serve the public interest.”
The justice further said the FCC found “the historical justifications for those ownership rules no longer apply in today’s media market, and that permitting efficient combinations among radio stations, television stations and newspapers would benefit customers.”
According to federal law, the FCC reviews the rules for media ownership every four years. As more people went online to consume. News, the FCC determined in 2017 that consolidation would help owners of various traditional media companies that were losing advertising dollars to companies that were based on the internet.
That move was challenged, though, through a lawsuit filed by the Prometheus Radio Project. An appeals court in Philadelphia ruled in favor of the challengers, and the FCC appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court.
Those fighting to allow looser rules for consolidation included the affiliate associations of many of the major broadcast networks.
In a separate unanimous decision Thursday, the Supreme Court sided with Facebook, saying a notification system the company uses to alert its users of suspicious logins doesn’t go against federal law. The laws in question look to curb automated text messages and robocalls.
The case was before the Supreme Court because of a proposed class-action lawsuit that would’ve held Facebook liable under a law passed in 1991 that imposed a general ban on any automated calls.
But, the Supreme Court justices ruled the opt-in security notification feature that Facebook uses falls outside that law. They made that ruling even though the program was found to have sent text messages that were unwanted.
One of the recipients of those texts claimed to the court that the program amounted to an “autodialer.”
Liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote on behalf of the court:
“Expanding the definition of an autodialer to encompass any equipment that merely stores and dials telephone numbers would take a chainsaw to these nuanced problems when Congress meant to use a scalpel.”
Facebook said that the plaintiff’s phone number could have been linked to Facebook alerts by the previous owner of that phone number.