Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC - Wikipedia

Turner Broadcasting v. Federal Communications Commission
Argued January 12, 1994
Decided June 27, 1994
Full case nameTurner Broadcasting System, Incorporated, et al., Appellants v. Federal Communications Commission, et al.
Citations512 U.S. 622 (more)
114 S. Ct. 2445; 129 L. Ed. 2d 497; 1994 U.S. LEXIS 4831; 62 U.S.L.W. 4647; 75 Rad. Reg. 2d (P & F) 609; 22 Media L. Rep. 1865; 94 Cal. Daily Op. Service 4831; 94 Daily Journal DAR 8894; 8 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 375
Case history
PriorTurner Broad. Sys., Inc. v. FCC, 819 F. Supp. 32 (D.D.C. 1993); probable jurisdiction noted, 509 U.S. 952 (1993).
SubsequentRehearing denied, 512 U.S. 1278 (1994); on remand, 910 F. Supp. 734 (D.D.C. 1995); affirmed, 520 U.S. 180 (1997).
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
Harry Blackmun · John P. Stevens
Sandra Day O'Connor · Antonin Scalia
Anthony Kennedy · David Souter
Clarence Thomas · Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Case opinions
MajorityKennedy, joined by unanimous (Part I); Rehnquist, Blackmun, O'Connor, Scalia, Souter, Thomas, Ginsburg (Parts II–A and II–B); Rehnquist, Blackmun, Stevens, Souter (Parts II–C, II–D, and III–A)
ConcurrenceKennedy (Part III–B), joined by Rehnquist, Blackmun, Souter
ConcurrenceStevens (in part)
Concur/dissentO'Connor, joined by Scalia, Ginsburg; Thomas (Parts I and III)

Turner Broadcasting v. Federal Communications Commission, 512 U.S. 622 (1994), is the first of two United States Supreme Court cases dealing with the must-carry rules imposed on cable television companies. Turner Broadcasting v. Federal Communications Commission (II), 520 U.S. 180 (1997) was the second. Turner I established that cable television companies were indeed First Amendment speakers but didn't decide whether the federal regulation of their speech infringed upon their speech rights. In Turner II the court decided that the must-carry provisions were constitutional.

Under the Miami Herald v. Tornillo case, it was unconstitutional to force a newspaper to run a story the editors would not have included absent a government statute because it was compelled speech which could not pass the strict scrutiny of a compelling state interest being achieved with the least restrictive means necessary to achieve the state interest. However, under the rule of Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC the High Court held that a federal agency could regulate broadcast stations (TV and radio) with far greater discretion. In order for federal agency regulation of broadcast media to pass constitutional muster, it need only serve an important state interest and need not narrowly tailor its regulation to the least restrictive means.

Concurrence (Stevens)[edit]

  • Congress' policy judgment is entitled to substantial deference
  • Statute did not regulate the content of speech and therefore does not require the court to examine it with heightened scrutiny

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