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Turner Broadcasting System v. Federal Communications Commission

The History Of Cable Television, Regulation Begins, Back To District Court


Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., et al.


Federal Communications Commission, et al.

Appellant's Claim

That the Federal Communications Commission was violating the First Amendment rights of cable operators by requiring them to broadcast local channels.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

H. Bartow Farr III

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Bruce Ennis

Justices for the Court

Stephen Breyer, Anthony M. Kennedy (writing for the Court), William H. Rehnquist, David H. Souter, John Paul Stevens

Justices Dissenting

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

31 March 1997


Requiring cable systems to broadcast local stations was a "content neutral" decision and therefore did not violate the First Amendment rights of the systems.


The Court furthered the concept of content-neutrality in this case which has and will set the standard for future First Amendment cases involving newer forms of communication such as the Internet.

Related Cases

  • United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968).
  • Red Lion Broadcasting, Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S. 367 (1969).
  • Miami Herald Publishing Company v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241 (1974).

Further Readings

  • Huber, Peter. "Must-carry and the Bill of Rights." Forbes, August 29, 1994, p. 94.
  • MacLachlan, Claudia. "Cable Operators Dismayed by `Must Carry' Ruling." The National Law Journal, December 25, 1995, p. A14.
  • Trigoboff, Dan. "Cable Takes Another Shot at Supreme Court." Broadcasting & Cable, September 30, 1996, p. 18.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994