On Sept. 23, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded a FCC 2017 Report and Order that had relaxed some of its broadcast ownership rules, in particular those regarding cross-ownership restrictions.
National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters President Jim Winston has something to say about that.
“The Court expressed great frustration with the Commission for not having developed an adequate record to support its conclusion that a small business definition for ‘eligible entities’ was appropriate,” he says. “This is the fourth time that the Court sent the Commission back to the drawing board because of its failure to develop an adequate record on the impact of its rule changes on ownership by minorities and women. I believe that it is time for the Commission to change course, and I believe it is an excellent opportunity for the industry to help the Commission.”
Winston added that if the industry were to make a concerted effort to get tax certificate legislation adopted by Congress, it can develop a record that could change the result in two ways the next time the Commission is in front of the Court defending its ownership rules.
First, he said, “in the process of getting Congress to adopt tax certificate legislation, the industry could develop a record to support a definition of eligible entities that would enable the Commission to use a race and gender conscious definition for eligible entities. Second, because the Commission has the 1978 to 1995 history of the tax certificate to rely on, the Commission could demonstrate to the Court that its implementation of a tax certificate program would have a high probability of promoting ownership of broadcast facilities by minorities and women.”
He concluded by noting that, “several years ago, the industry came together and attempted to get tax certificate legislation passed, but fell short because the Congressional Budget Office grossly overestimated the potential impact on federal tax revenues. I believe we can correct that error and get legislation passed this time.”