18 Civil Rights Groups Again Urge Supreme Court to Expand Diversity in Media Ownership

Contact: Charmaine Riley, [email protected], 202.548.7166

WASHINGTON – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund, along with 16 national, state, and local organizations, filed a “friend of the court” brief today urging the U.S. Supreme Court to expand and support media ownership by members of historically disadvantaged groups, particularly people of color and women.

Federal Communications Commission v. Prometheus Radio Project addresses whether the FCC properly concluded that media consolidation would not harm its longstanding public interest goal of promoting ownership by women and people of color in broadcasting. The groups argue that the FCC’s perfunctory consideration, based on flawed data and analysis, was arbitrary and capricious.

“The present case is yet another chapter in the FCC’s cyclical failure to live up to its diversity policy commitments. With respect to local media ownership by women, the FCC did not consider data—at all. As for ownership by people of color, the FCC engaged in a scant, spurious discussion, using the same data it had invoked just over a year earlier to reach the opposite conclusion. For all the limitations of that data, assuming the futility of a more precise statistical analysis was like deciding to perform cataract surgery with no measurements at all just because the laser interferometer was down: indefensible,” the groups wrote.

They added, “This Court should not endorse the FCC’s failure to consider its own policy objectives meaningfully and support its factual findings. If the FCC’s true determination is that it has no idea how the rule change will affect ownership diversity and no interest in gathering relevant data, it should have been open and transparent about that position.”

The Leadership Conference has repeatedly filed comments to the FCC seeking correct ownership data and analysis of broadcast regulation on media ownership diversity. In addition, The Leadership Conference recently released a summary of the FCC’s ownership diversity data since 2009 to provide a convenient reference for members of the public and press and explained the limitations of the FCC’s data collection.

The Leadership Conference is grateful to the law firm of Stris & Maher LLP and their team of talented attorneys — led by Elizabeth Brannen and including Peter K. Stris, Michael Donofrio, Bridget Asay, and Sarah Rahimi — for drafting this brief.

The amicus brief is available here, and the participating organizations are listed below:

American Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC
Equal Justice Society
Freedom to Read Foundation
Matthew Shepard Foundation
National Action Network
National Consumer Law Center
National Equality Action Team (NEAT)
National Women’s Law Center
Native American Journalist Association (NAJA)
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
The Leadership Conference Education Fund
People For the American Way Foundation
Public Advocacy for Kids (PAK)
Women Lawyers On Guard Inc.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit civilrights.org/edfund/.