Federal Communications Commission v. Schreiber

PETITIONER: Federal Communications Commission
LOCATION: Longshore and Warehouse Union

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 381 US 279 (1965)
ARGUED: Apr 27, 1965
DECIDED: May 24, 1965

Facts of the case


Media for Federal Communications Commission v. Schreiber

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 27, 1965 in Federal Communications Commission v. Schreiber

Earl Warren:

Number 482, Federal Communications Commission, Petitioner, versus Taft B. Schreiber, et al.

Mr. Douglas.

John W. Douglas:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the Ninth Circuit.

That Court had affirmed an order of the District Court for the Southern District of California.

The Southern District Court, the District Court for the Southern District of California had previously attached certain conditions to the enforcement of a subpoena and orders to testify, which had been issued by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC's subpoena and orders had come during the course of a lengthy Commission investigation in the television programming.

The basic purpose of that investigation was to determine whether the networks, the licensees, or others might be arbitrarily restricting or excluding the broadcast of otherwise meritorious programs.

As secondary and alive purposes, the Commission wished to determine whether new rules should be proposed to cope with this important and complicated field and also whether new legislations should be suggested to the Congress.

At the outset of the investigation itself, the Commission directed that public sessions were to be the prevailing practice, but the private sessions could be ordered, should be ordered by the presiding officer if the occasion warranted.

In the fall of 1960, a subpoena duces tecum was served upon the respondent Schreiber.

He was then a Vice President of the other respondent MCA.

MCA, an affiliate of Music Corporation of America, was engaged in various phases of the television industry.

It was a talent agency for performers both over television and in the movies.

It was a producer of shows.

It was a packager of shows and it was a representative of other packagers.

I might say that a packager is someone who assembles the raw ingredients which go to comprise a performance, primarily the script and the stars, and this assemblage, if you will, is then turned over to the producer, whose job it is to convert it into something which can be physically shown on television screens.

Potter Stewart:

MCA had been the defendant in an antitrust action earlier, had it?

Or what was the chronology of that?

Because before -- at one stage of the game, MCA was also an agent for a talent, was it not?

John W. Douglas:

That's right.

The antitrust action was commenced after this investigation had gotten underway and ended in a consent --

Potter Stewart:


John W. Douglas:

-- decree in which the MCA decided to get out of the talent agency business.

Potter Stewart:

But at this time, they were in both?

John W. Douglas:

This time, they were in both.

Potter Stewart:

But I suppose that's not very relevant to this.

John W. Douglas:

Well think it is, in the sense that -- the anti-trust suit is not particularly relevant.

In fact, they're in the talent agency business once because –-

Potter Stewart:

That was one of the things that the investigation was about?