Brief Fact Summary. The Plaintiff, the Red Lion Broadcasting Co. (Plaintiff), alleges that its First Amendment constitutional rights were violated by the Defendant, the Federal Communication Commission (Defendant). The Plaintiff argued that a rule passed by the Defendant, requiring a person or group whose character, honesty or integrity is attacked on the Plaintiff’s broadcast be given the opportunity to respond to the attack is unconstitutional.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution) is not violated by rules passed by the Defendant requiring a licensee to share his frequency with others and to present those views and voices which are representative of his community and which would otherwise be barred from the airwaves.
Issue. Whether the Defendant’s fairness doctrine and its component regulations governing personal attacks and political editorializing violate the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Held. No. In general, radio and television broadcast can be regulated more closely than the press, due to the limited number of airwaves available. There is nothing in the First Amendment of the Constitution that prevents the Government from requiring a licensee to share his frequency with others, to conduct himself as a proxy or fiduciary with obligations to present those views and voice which are representative of his community and which would otherwise be barred from the airwaves
Discussion. The First Amendment of the Constitution is not violated by the Defendant’s regulations requiring broadcasters to air views that might not be their own. It is the right of the public to receive suitable access to social, political, moral and other ideas that are cruci