Media Access Project to Fold

Group was a fierce defender of media ownership rules

The Media Access Project, a public interest law firm that was often a thorn in the side of broadcasters and newspaper owners because of its defense of the Federal Communications Commission’s media ownership rules, is folding. 

After a 40-year run, MAP will close its doors effective May 1, 2012.

In a press statement, MAP’s board said it reached its decision “after evaluating the difficult funding environment facing MAP and other progressive public interest groups.”

Under Andrew Schwartzman, MAP’s president and CEO, the group won numerous cases opposing broadcasters that were pushing the FCC to loosen rules governing the number of stations and media outlets an owner could operate. MAP was also the leading organization behind the creation of low-power FM stations.

Though MAP opposed broadcasters on ownership rules, it was also a fierce defender of the First Amendment, agreeing with broadcasters that the broadcast indecency rules should be overturned. 

"It will be hard for any other group to match the experience and skill that MAP brought to their mission. We were often on opposite sides, in both proceedings and perspectives, but a smart lawyer knew never to underestimate MAP's abilities here in Washington," said Scott Flick, a partner with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, who represents broadcasters. 

Schwartzman said in an email that he would engineer an orderly shutdown. “Then we’ll have a party and I’ll look for a job,” he said.