Media 2070 Project Denounces Supreme Court Media-Ownership Ruling
April 1, 2021
On Thurs., April 1, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Prometheus Radio Project v. FCC, a case that public-interest groups brought against the agency in response to its 2017 order that gutted longstanding media-ownership limits. The Court deferred unanimously to the agency in a decision that will lead to even more media consolidation.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh led the court in affirming the FCC’s actions on judicial-deference grounds. A concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas asserted that “The F.C.C. had no obligation to consider minority and female ownership,” a statement showing a stunning indifference to the disproportionate impact this ruling will have on Black-owned and -controlled media in the United States.
In response to the decision, Media 2070 Director Alicia Bell released the following statement:
“Today the Supreme Court affirmed the Trump FCC’s effective exclusion of the Black community from greater media-ownership opportunities with its decision to rubber stamp the weakening of local ownership limits.
“This decision is just the latest in a steady tide of deregulation since Congress ended the FCC’s minority tax-certificate program in 1995 and passed the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which paved the way for massive media consolidation. These measures have decimated Black media ownership, leaving in its wake a rise in racist, right-wing disinformation via talk radio, cable news, internet platforms and beyond.
“As of 2020, less than 1% of commercial full-power TV stations are Black owned and controlled. And out of the 11,000 commercial radio stations across the country, fewer than 180 are owned by Black people. People of color own just 7 percent of the nation’s commercial FM-radio stations and just 12 percent of commercial AM-radio stations— despite making up more than 40 percent of the U.S. population.
“As the nation faces a global uprising against anti-Black state violence, Black voices must be heard if there is any chance of realizing safe, free and just communities. We must reckon with the ways that anti-Blackness is encoded in the DNA of our media system, particularly in FCC media-ownership policies. We call on the FCC to study its own history of racism in policymaking to help understand the harm that has taken place and begin paving the road to repair.”