Federal Communications Commission v. Midwest Video Corporation

PETITIONER: Federal Communications Commission
RESPONDENT: Midwest Video Corporation
LOCATION: Nebraska Board of Parole

DOCKET NO.: 77-1575
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 440 US 689 (1979)
ARGUED: Jan 10, 1979
DECIDED: Apr 02, 1979

ADVOCATES:
George H. Shapiro - for Midwest Video corp
Lawrence G. Wallace - argued the cause for petitioner in No. 77-1575 and in support of petitioners in Nos. 77-1648 and 77-1662 under this Court's Rule 21 (4)

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Federal Communications Commission v. Midwest Video Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 10, 1979 in Federal Communications Commission v. Midwest Video Corporation

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 02, 1979 in Federal Communications Commission v. Midwest Video Corporation

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Justice White will announce the judgment and opinion of the Court in Federal Communications Commission against Midwest Video Corporation and the consolidated cases.

Byron R. White:

This case is here from the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

The case involves the validity of certain regulations issued by the Federal Communications Commission in 1976.

Under these regulations cable television systems have 3,500 subscribers and carry television signals must develop at least a 20-channel capacity by 1986 and they must make available at least four channels were use by public, educational, local government and leased-access users. And in addition, they must furnish equipment and facilities for such access purposes.

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit set aside the regulations as unauthorized by the Communications Act of 1934.

We affirmed that judgment.

As we explain in the opinion we have filed, the Commission’s authority for cable casting is ancillary to its power to regulate broadcasters.

And these regulations could not be validly applied to broadcasting because they would too deeply intrude on the editorial discretion and journalistic freedom that the Act intend to do reserve to broadcast licensees.

In particular, Section 3(h) of the Act expressly forbids imposing common carrier obligations on broadcasters.

And as we understand the regulations at issue, they treat cable casters at least in part as common carriers.

This we have concluded and as we have explained in the opinion is forbidden by the Act.

We thus affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals as a matter of statutory construction without reaching the constitutional challenges presented to the regulations.

Mr. Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion.

Mr. Justice Brennan and Mr. Justice Marshall have joined Mr. Justice Stevens.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice White.