In a move protecting independent and progressive media voices, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit blocked implementation of several Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that would have facilitated media conglomerates' consolidation. The FCC regulations, which were voted on in 2003, loosened restrictions on media companies’ ownership of multiple broadcast sources, including allowing control of several media arenas within one city. An FCC measure to allow national television networks to reach a greater percentage of the population (up from 35 percent to the current 39 percent) has already taken effect.
The federal court’s decision comes on the tails of a Senate vote on June 21 to repeal the FCC rules. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) called the FCC regulations “one of the most complete cave-ins to corporate interests against public interest in the history of the country,” according to The New York Times. The Bush administration and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) had previously attempted to block key votes in Congress that would repeal the FCC rules, putting Bush and other big business supporters in direct opposition to public outcry, The Nation notes. Public interest groups representing voices ranging from the National Rifle Association to Ms. magazine rallied together against the FCC rules last year. A mere 10 percent of the American public is supportive of the FCC measures, a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and Press discovered, according to Salon.com.
The Washington Post noted that FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell’s push to consolidate media ownership is especially ironic considering that the FCC is charged with maintaining “localism, diversity, and competition” in the media marketplace. Although the FCC inundated Congress last year with a flood of data, charts, and graphs describing why consolidation would be beneficial, the appeals court ruled that the deregulatory policies were based on specious reasoning. FCC has to present a stronger justification before the rules are implemented. It is unclear whether or not the FCC will push their appeal onward to the Supreme Court in the face of clear public disapproval.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .