Remember how conservatives just could not get over the fact that neither Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels — or anyone else they liked better than Mitt Romney — would run for President? Remember how this collective fantasy actually acquired a factesque quality, so no matter how often and emphatically they said “I’m not running,”, hardcore true believers kept saying it would totally happen? As a result, this collective fantasy actually kept impacting reality, with Mitt Romney forced to spend real time and real money persuading potential supporters that their choices really were Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul. Really.
I bring this up because we have our own version of this in telecom policyland. Here, a hardcore group of people in telecom policyland believe that the Supreme Court is positively lusting to overturn the two cases that form the mainstay of the FCC’s authority to regulate broadcasters and cable operators: Red Lion and Turner Broadcasting. The rock solid belief that the Supreme Court cannot wait to get its collective hands on these cases cases to overturn them is an article of faith among so many in the telecom world that it influences behavior. Those who favor regulation of things like media ownership and program access live in mortal terror of any change to the rules that might give rise to a cause of action. By contrast, broadcasters, cable operators, and other opponents of any regulation of Big Media keep trying to generate lawsuits so they can strike down what they see as a vile restraint on the First Amendment.
This past term, the Supreme Court had the opportunity to review both Red Lion and Turner. It opted not to do so. In May, the Supreme Court quietly declined to hear an appeal by Cablevision that would have allowed the Court to revisit the Turner case. In June, the Court not only refused to reconsider Red Lion in the context of the Fox Broadcasting indecency case, they refused to hear the broadcaster appeal of the FCC’s media ownership decision. These cases presented the cleanest, most clear-cut opportunities for the Court to re-examine the constitutionality of either cable or broadcast regulation in years, and the most obvious opportunities for years to come. If the Court were lusting to take on either Red Lion or Turner, surely this presented the perfect chance for them to do so.
But they didn’t. And, just as even the most avid Romney-haters needed to wake up to the fact that Chris Christie wasn’t playing hard to get, folks in Policyland need to deal with the fact that regulation of media ownership and cable remains constitutional for the foreseeable future.
More below . . . .