United States v. Radio Corporation of America

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Radio Corporation of America
LOCATION: Sherry Frontenac

DOCKET NO.: 54
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 358 US 334 (1959)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1958
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1959

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United States v. Radio Corporation of America

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 1958 (Part 2) in United States v. Radio Corporation of America

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 1958 (Part 1) in United States v. Radio Corporation of America

Earl Warren:

Number 54, United States of America, Appellant, versus Radio Corporation of America and National Broadcasting Company, Incorporated.

Mr. Solicitor General.

J. Lee Rankin:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This action involves the question of a conspiracy charged by the Government involving the exchange of radio and television stations in Cleveland, Ohio for radio and television stations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The questions before this Court are whether or not the action of the Federal Communications Commission in allowing the exchange precludes the Government from bringing an antitrust proceeding because of the conspiracy between NBC, the wholly owned subsidiary of RCA, to obtain this exchange.

And against the contract which was made as covering the exchange as a part of the conspiracy.

And further, whether there are equitable considerations in the nature of collateral estoppel or akin to res judicata, or by reason of the -- the delay of the Government in bringing the action which would preclude the proceeding.

The matter came before the District Court, the Eastern Division.

The Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and there the Government's case was dismissed.

It came up --

William O. Douglas:

Would you mind telling what happened before the Commission?

J. Lee Rankin:

Yes.

Before the Commission, the Commission allowed the exchange and there was a stipulation as a part of the District Court proceedings between the Government and the parties that the Commission had the duty to consider and did determine whether or not there were antitrust violations in passing upon the decision as to whether or not to allow this exchange of the Cleveland station.

William O. Douglas:

Did the Department of Justice appear that the administrative proceedings --

J. Lee Rankin:

It did not but it was given notice.

Hugo L. Black:

(Inaudible)

J. Lee Rankin:

Yes, the Commission notified it that there were possible antitrust considerations involved, and the Department of Justice did not appear.

There was no hearing.

There was no adversary proceeding.

There was no opinion.

The order was just made allowing the transfers to be made under the statute.

Charles E. Whittaker:

Did they make (Inaudible) whether or not the Commission as of the time it was found to make that order incidentally had defined that did it not violate the antitrust?

J. Lee Rankin:

The Government does not think so.

The Government believes that the problem with the Commission had was to -- was defined by the statute, which was to determine a public interest, convenience, and necessity regarding this exchange.

Now, this was not a comparative proceeding.

There was no other applicant before the Commission for this -- these particular stations.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

How do you reconcile that statement Mr. Solicitor General, the stipulation in paragraph where it says, considering the following evidence, the FCC had a duty to and did consider whether the evidence support your -- in violation of antitrust laws.

J. Lee Rankin:

We -- we believe that stipulation involves this.

That the Commission could properly have considered and did have a duty to consider, whether or not there was such a violation.

And it could have determined within the stipulation that there was or that there was not such a violation.