Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Trump Admin Attempt


The Trump administration’s belligerence definitely does not stop at one issue, extending well into realms like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Some time after they faded from public view following their effort to repeal “net neutrality” rules, their Trump era incarnation has been hit this week with a federal appeals court-delivered block to a major policy change they’d been planning that would have opened doors to further media consolidation in the hands of conservatives at places like Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

The hope from the Republicans on the FCC including Trump-appointed Chairman Ajit Pai was that they could freely relax media ownership restrictions, opening up opportunities like one for owning a major newspaper and television station in the same “major market.” They were also hoping to ease restrictions on companies buying additional television and radio stations and on such stations jointly selling advertising time. Of course, if those offering advertising time to local businesses were banded together, competition and the affordability it helps drive would be limited — but that’s not the only issue. The court addressing the FCC’s push this week insisted they “did not adequately consider the effect its sweeping rule changes will have on ownership of broadcast media by women and racial minorities.” If white men are free to use their already in place resources to expand media conglomerates even further, where’s the protection for the alternative voices?

Besides insisting that the FCC would challenge the ruling, Pai complained in the face of what he called a majority of judges who in response to Congressionally-mandated oversight of media rules have “taken that authority for themselves, blocking any attempt to modernize these regulations to match the obvious realities of the modern media marketplace” that:

‘There is no evidence or reasoning — newspapers going out of business, broadcast radio struggling, broadcast TV facing stiffer competition than ever — that will persuade them to change their minds.’

In other words, Pai would like those concerned about the effects of opening the doors to further monopolization of the media world to just stop complaining and accept the white Republican men’s money.

In contrast, Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel insisted that under Pai’s leadership, the commission “has been busy dismantling the values embedded in its ownership policies.” Advocacy group Free Press, meanwhile, praised the fact that this latest court decision “marks the fourth time this court has rejected the relentless attempts from the FCC and the broadcast industry to weaken media-ownership limits.”

This is but one of many fronts on which the Trump administration has attempted to shape American policy in their own image and faced pushback. On the environmental front, for instance, they’ve sought just recently to force California to make their emissions standards more lax, and in the time since, California and a whole host of other states have taken the Trump administration to court over the move.

Despite these setbacks — which extend into other areas like immigration policy — the Trump administration seems unlikely to be deterred from trying feverishly to implement their agenda anytime soon.

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