FCC v. RCA Communications, Inc.
346 U.S. 86 (1953)

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U.S. Supreme Court

FCC v. RCA Communications, Inc., 346 U.S. 86 (1953)

Federal Communications Commission v.

RCA Communications, Inc.

Argued April 29-30, 1953

Decided June 8, 1953*

346 U.S. 86

Syllabus

Under the Federal Communications Act of 1934, the Commission authorized a radiotelegraph company, which was then serving 39 overseas points, to open two new circuits, to Portugal and The Netherlands. The authorization was opposed by another company which provided similar service by means of 65 circuits, including circuits to each of those countries. The Commission concluded that duplicate facilities should be authorized because of the "national policy in favor of competition." From this policy, the Commission said, it follows that, where competition is "reasonably feasible," it is in the public interest.

Held:

1. On the record in this case, the Commission's authorization cannot be sustained. Pp. 346 U. S. 87-97.

(a) In reviewing such a decision of the Commission, Congress has charged the courts with the responsibility of determining whether the Commission has fairly exercised its discretion within the bounds expressed by the standard of "public interest" and whether the Commission has been guided by proper considerations in bringing its experience and expert judgment to bear on applications for licenses in the public interest. Pp. 346 U. S. 90-91.

(b) Encouragement of competition, as such, is not the single or controlling reliance for safeguarding the public interest in the field of radiotelegraph communication, and this consideration, standing alone, is not sufficient to justify an authorization to duplicate existing services whenever competition is reasonably feasible. Pp. 346 U. S. 89-95.

(c) In granting the authorization in this case, the Commission did not properly discharge its responsibility, because its action was not based on its own judgment as to what was in the public interest, but on its unjustified assumption that Congress thought authorizations for the sole purpose of encouraging competition were desirable. Pp. 346 U. S. 95-96.

Page 346 U. S. 87

(d) If the Commission, in the exercise of its own judgment, reaches a conclusion that duplicating authorizations are in the public interest wherever competition is reasonably feasible, it need not make specific findings of tangible benefit, but there must be ground for reasonable expectation that competition may have some beneficial effect. Pp. 346 U. S. 96-97.

2. The Commission's authorization in this case does not violate § 314 of the Communications Act by reason of the corporate affiliation of the radiotelegraph company with the cable company in question -- the Commission having determined, upon adequate findings, that the grant of such authorization would not decrease competition. Pp. 346 U. S. 97-98.

91 U.S.App.D.C. 289, 201 F.2d 694, vacated and remanded.

On review by the Court of Appeals, an order of the Federal Communications Commission was reversed. 91 U.S.App.D.C. 289, 201 F.2d 694. This Court granted certiorari. 345 U.S. 902. Judgment vacated and case remanded, p. 346 U. S. 98.

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