Federal Communications Commission v. National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting

PETITIONER: Federal Communications Commission
RESPONDENT: National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting
LOCATION: Beth Israel Hospital

DOCKET NO.: 76-1471
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 436 US 775 (1978)
ARGUED: Jan 16, 1978
DECIDED: Jun 12, 1978

ADVOCATES:
Charles M. Firestone - for respondent National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting
Daniel M. Armstrong, III - for petitioner and respondent Federal Communications Commission
Erwin N. Griswold - for all private petitioners
Lawrence G. Wallace - argued the cause for the United States

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Federal Communications Commission v. National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 16, 1978 in Federal Communications Commission v. National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 12, 1978 in Federal Communications Commission v. National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and opinion of the court in 16-1471 Federal Communications Commission against The National Citizens Committee for broadcasting and five consolidated cases will be announced by Mr. Justice Marshall.

Thurgood Marshall:

These cases are here on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

At issue a Federal Communication Commission regulations on the subject of cross ownership that is common ownership of a radio or television broadcast station and a daily newspaper located in the same community.

The regulation banned on all new licensing of such combinations.

Existing newspaper broadcast combinations are allowed to continue an operation except in communities in which the only broadcast station and the only newspaper are commonly owned.

In the later situation, divestiture of either the newspaper or the broadcast station is generally required within five years.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the perspective ban, but held that commission had acted arbitrarily in not ordering divestiture of all existing newspaper broadcast combinations located in the same community.

In an opinion filed with the clerk, we affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals insofar, as it upholds the perspective ban, but reverse the judgment insofar as it orders divestiture of all existing combinations.

We hold that the commission's regulations are valid in their entirety.

There are reasonable means of enhancing diversity of viewpoints in the mass media and thus state forth within the commission statutory, rule making authority.

Moreover, given the physical scarcity of broadcast frequencies, nothing in the First Amendment prevents the commission from allocating broadcast licenses so as to promote diversification in the mass media as a whole.

We conclude finally that the commission's decision not to order divestiture of all existing newspaper broadcast combinations was based on a rational weighing of competing policies.

The Commission found that the existing cross owners had a long record of meritorious service and cross support divestiture requirement, cross disruption for the industry and ownership for the individual owners.

In light of these findings, the commission did not act arbitrarily in confining divestiture to cases of local monopoly.

Mr. Justice Brennan took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Marshall.