Federal Communications Commission v. WNCN Listeners Guild

PETITIONER: Federal Communications Commission
RESPONDENT: WNCN Listeners Guild
LOCATION: White House

DOCKET NO.: 79-824
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 450 US 582 (1981)
ARGUED: Nov 03, 1980
DECIDED: Mar 24, 1981

ADVOCATES:
David J. Saylor - on behalf of the Petitioners, the FCC, et al
Kristin Booth Glen - on behalf of the Respondents, WNCN Listeners Guild, Inc., et al
Timothy B. Dyk - on behalf of the Petitioners, American Broadcasting Companies, et al., and National Association of Broadcasters, et al
Wilhelmina Reuben Cooke - on behalf of the Respondents, Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, et al

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Federal Communications Commission v. WNCN Listeners Guild

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 03, 1980 in Federal Communications Commission v. WNCN Listeners Guild

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 24, 1981 in Federal Communications Commission v. WNCN Listeners Guild

Warren E. Burger:

MThe judgment and opinion of the Court in Federal Communications Commission against WNCN Listeners Guild and the consolidated cases will be announced by Justice White.

Byron R. White:

At issue here is a policy of the Federal Communications Commission under which the Commission in the courts are passing on applications for renewal or transfer of a radio station’s license.

We'll not consider or take into account entertainment format changes that have occurred or -- or about to occur.

The Commission prefers to rely on market forces and competition among radio stations to serve the public interests.

This policy was challenged in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by various consumer groups who claim that the Commission’s policy did not sufficiently served public interests in providing diversity in -- in program format or in preserving unique entertainment programs.

The Court of Appeals overturned the Commission’s policy holding that it was contrary to the Federal Communications Act.

We granted certiorari and for the reasons that are detailed in an opinion filed today, we reverse as we understand the governing statute.

It may not require the Commission’s policy but certainly it does not forbid it.

So the judgment is reversed.

Mr. Justice Marshall filed a dissenting opinion and he is joined by Mr. Justice Brennan.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice White.