NOTE: Where it is possible, a syllabus (headnote) can be released, as is being done in reference to this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been organized with the aid of the Reporter of Decisions for the benefit of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co.,
two hundred U.S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION et al. v. PROMETHEUS RADIO PROJECT et al.
certiorari to america court of appeals for the 0.33 circuit
No. 19–1231. Argued January 19, 2021—Decided April 1, 2021
Under its vast authority to regulate broadcast media inside the public interest, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has lengthy maintained numerous possession rules that limit the variety of radio stations, television stations, and newspapers that a single entity may additionally very own in a given marketplace. Section 202(h) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 directs the FCC to check its media ownership guidelines every four years and to repeal or adjust any rules that no longer serve the general public interest.
In 2017, the FCC concluded that 3 of its possession regulations had been not important to promote opposition, localism, or point of view diversity. The Commission in addition concluded that the document proof did no longer endorse that repealing or editing the ones 3 rules was in all likelihood to harm minority and lady ownership. Based on that evaluation, the enterprise determined to repeal of those three ownership guidelines and alter the third. Prometheus Radio Project and numerous other public hobby and consumer advocacy companies (together, Prometheus) petitioned for evaluation, arguing that the FCC’s choice to repeal or regulate the three regulations changed into arbitrary and capricious underneath the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The Third Circuit vacated the FCC’s reconsideration order, holding that the record did no longer guide the company’s end that the rule of thumb modifications might have minimum impact on minority and female ownership.
Held: The FCC’s selection to repeal or adjust the three possession policies changed into not arbitrary and capricious for purposes of the APA. In reading whether to repeal or alter its current ownership regulations, the FCC taken into consideration the file proof and moderately concluded that the 3 ownership regulations at trouble have been no longer essential to serve the agency’s public hobby dreams of competition, localism, and viewpoint range, and that the rule of thumb adjustments had been now not likely to damage minority and lady possession.
In tough the FCC’s order, Prometheus argues that the Commission’s assessment of the possibly effect of the rule of thumb modifications on minority and female possession rested on flawed facts. But the FCC recounted the gaps in the statistics sets it depended on, and noted that, in spite of its repeated requests for added information, it had received no countervailing evidence suggesting that changing the 3 possession rules was probably to harm minority and lady possession. Prometheus also asserts that the FCC omitted two research submitted with the aid of a commenter that purported to expose that beyond relaxations of the possession rules had brought about decreases in minority and girl possession tiers. But the report demonstrates that the FCC taken into consideration the ones studies and truely interpreted them in another way.
In assessing the outcomes of the rule changes on minority and woman possession, the FCC did now not have ideal empirical or statistical information. But that isn't always uncommon in daily employer decisionmaking within the Executive Branch. The APA imposes no preferred responsibility on businesses to behavior or commission their personal empirical or statistical studies. And not anything inside the Telecommunications Act requires the FCC to conduct such studies before exercising its discretion below Section 202(h). In light of the sparse document on minority and lady ownership and the FCC’s findings with admire to competition, localism, and standpoint diversity, the Court can't say that the organisation’s choice to repeal or regulate the ownership policies fell outside the region of reasonableness for functions of the APA. Pp. 7–thirteen.
939 F.3d 567, reversed.
Kavanaugh, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. Thomas, J., filed a concurring opinion.