Client Successes Nov 21, 2019

BB&K Wins Appeal of FCC Media Ownership Rules

Prometheus Radio Project v. FCC

BB&K Wins Appeal of FCC Media Ownership Rules

In what is likely the final step in a successful appeal of the Federal Communications Commission’s most recent decision relaxing broadcast media ownership rules, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday rejected the FCC’s and National Association of Broadcasters’ petitions for rehearing and rehearing en banc. 
Best Best & Krieger LLP attorney Cheryl A. Leanza, lead counsel who partially offered her services pro bono on the case, is representing  a coalition of nonprofit organizations, led by Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project. BB&K Partner Joseph Van Eaton also assisted. The Third Circuit’s ruling in September was the fourth time the FCC has been overturned by the same panel in 20 years of litigation on this issue. Leanza successfully argued that the FCC rules would lead to more consolidation in the broadband industry and hinder ownership diversity.
“The Federal Communications Commission must heed the court and compile a record that will evaluate the impact of its broadcast ownership rules on ownership by women and people of color,” Leanza said. “Media diversity is essential to ensure all voices are heard and to help local communities receive the information they need to participate in civic affairs and keep up with local issues.” 
Of particular note, the case successfully established standing by BB&K’s clients, an area of law that has been challenging for similarly situated petitioners. 
The petitioners were jointly represented by BB&K and Georgetown Law Center’s Communications and Technology Law Clinic. Other petitioners include Free Press, Communications Workers of America, Common Cause, Media Mobilizing Project and the United Church of Christ’s media justice ministry, OC Inc.
The case is Prometheus Radio Project et al. v. FCC, 939 F.3d 567 (3d Cir. 2019). 

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