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Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission Metro Broadcasting - Significance

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In Metro Broadcasting, the Supreme Court for the first time endorsed a federal program intended to promote future minority diversification, rather than merely remedy past racial discrimination.

In 1978, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted its Statement of Policy on Minority Ownership of Broadcasting Facilities. The statement outlined two FCC policies intended to expand minority ownership of broadcast licenses. First, in judging competing license applications, the FCC gave special considerations to those radio or television stations owned or managed by members of minority groups. Second, the FCC permitted a broadcaster who was in danger of losing its license to transfer that license through a so-called "distress sale," but only to a radio or television broadcast organization controlled by members of minority groups. Otherwise, the distressed license holder was obliged to allow the courts to decide who could have the license.

Metro Broadcasting was one of several applicants for a license to operate a new television station in Orlando, Florida. An administrative law judge approved Metro's application. When the FCC reviewed this award, however, it determined that the license should go to one of Metro's competitors, a firm that was 90 percent Hispanic owned. (Metro had only one minority partner who owned 19.8 percent of the company.) Metro appealed this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. When the court upheld the FCC's decision, Metro took its case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission Metro Broadcasting - Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action In Broadcasting [next]

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