National Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. United States - 319 U.S. 190 (1943)


U.S. Supreme Court

National Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. United States, 319 U.S. 190 (1943)

National Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. United States

No. 554

Argued February 10, 11, 1943

Decided May 10, 1943*

319 U.S. 190

Syllabus

1. The regulatory powers of the Federal Communications Commission are not limited to the engineering and technical aspects of radio communication. P. 319 U. S. 215.

2. Regulations adopted by the Federal Communications Commission, as "in the public interest," touching the relations between licensed broadcasting stations on the one hand, and network organizations furnishing programs to such stations on the other hand, are sustained as within the powers conferred upon the Commission by the Federal Communications Act, viz.:

(1) A regulation providing that no license shall be granted to a standard broadcast station having any contract, arrangement, or understanding with a network organization under which the station is prevented or hindered from, or penalized for, broadcasting the programs of any other network organization. P. 319 U. S. 198.

(2) A regulation providing that no license shall be granted to a standard broadcast station having any contract, etc., with a network organization which prevents or hinders another station serving substantially the same area from broadcasting the network's programs not taken by the former station, or which prevents or hinders another station serving a substantially different area from broadcasting any program of the network organization; but not prohibiting any contract between a station and a network organization pursuant to which the station is granted the first call in its primary service area upon the programs of the network organization. P. 319 U. S. 200.

(3) A regulation declaring that no license shall be granted to a standard broadcast station having any contract, etc., with a network organization which provides for the affiliation of the station with the network organization for a period longer than two years. P. 319 U. S. 201.

Page 319 U. S. 191

(4) A regulation providing that no license shall be granted to a standard broadcast station which options for network program any time subject to call on less than 56 days' notice, or more time than a total of three hours within each of four segments of the broadcast day, as described in the regulation, and that such options may not be exclusive as against other network organizations and may not prevent or hinder the station from optioning or selling any or all of the time covered by the option, or other time, to other network organizations. P. 319 U. S. 202.

(5) A regulation providing that no license shall be granted to a standard broadcast station having any contract, etc., with a network organization which (a), with respect to programs offered pursuant to an affiliation contract, prevents or hinders the station from rejecting or refusing network programs which the station reasonably believes to be unsatisfactory or unsuitable; or which (b), with respect to network programs so offered or already contracted for, prevents the station from rejecting or refusing any program which, in its opinion, is contrary to the public interest, or from substituting a program of outstanding local or national importance. P. 319 U. S. 204.

(6) A regulation providing that no license shall be granted to a network organization, or to any person directly or indirectly controlled by or under common control with a network organization, for more than one standard broadcast station where one of the stations covers substantially the service area of the other station, or for any standard broadcast station in any locality where the existing standard broadcast stations are so few or of such unequal desirability (in terms of coverage, power, frequency, or other related matters) that competition would be substantially restrained by such licensing. P. 319 U. S. 206.

(7) A regulation providing that no license shall be granted to a standard broadcast station having any contract, etc., with a network organization under which the station is prevented or hindered from, or penalized for, fixing or altering its rates for the sale of broadcast time for other than the network's programs. P. 319 U. S. 208.

3. Section 311 of the Federal Communications Act, by authorizing the Commission to withhold broadcasting station licenses from persons who have been convicted of violating the Antitrust Laws, does not imply that, in the absence of such conviction, conduct of the applicant amounting to such violation may not be considered by the Commission in determining whether the granting of his application would be contrary to the "public interest." P. 319 U. S. 222.

Page 319 U. S. 192

4. The standard of "public interest" governing the exercise of the powers delegated to the Commission by the Act is not so vague and indefinite as to create an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority. P. 319 U. S. 225.

5. The Commission, by announcing that it will refuse station licenses to persons who engage in specified network practices contrary to the public interest, convenience, or necessity, does not thereby deny to such person the constitutional right of free speech. P. 319 U. S. 226.

6. In a suit to enjoin the enforcement of regulation promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission, the District Court properly disposed of the case upon the pleadings and the record made before the Commission, without trial de novo. P. 319 U. S. 227.

47 F.Supp. 940 affirmed.

Appeals from judgments of the District Court dismissing suits to enjoin enforcement of chain broadcasting regulations promulgated by the Federal Communications Commission.

Page 319 U. S. 193



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