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U.S. Supreme Court

FCC v. Pottsville Broadcasting Co., 309 U.S. 134 (1940)

Federal Communications Commission v. Pottsville Broadcasting Co.

No. 265

Argued January 11, 1940

Decided January 29, 1940

309 U.S. 134


1. A lower court's interpretation of its own mandate does not bind this Court. P. 309 U. S. 141.

2. The opinion discusses the differences of origin and function between the judicial and the administrative processes, and the relation of the one to the other in matters of substance and procedure where administrative rulings are subject to judicial review on errors of law. P. 309 U. S. 141.

3. Under the Federal Communications Act of 1934, the Communications Commission, in passing upon an application for a permit to construct a broadcasting station, must judge by the standard of public convenience, interest, and necessity. Pp. 309 U. S. 137, 309 U. S. 145.

4. The Act empowers the Commission to adopt rules of procedure applicable in ascertaining whether the granting of an application for a permit to erect a broadcasting station would be in the public interest. P. 309 U. S. 138.

5. Under this Act, upon review by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia of a decision of the Commission denying an application for such a permit, the court has authority to correct errors of law and, upon remand, the Commission, is bound to accept such correction. P. 309 U. S. 145.

6. But where the Commission denied an application for such a permit and, upon appeal to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the ruling was reversed because of error of law and the case sent back for further proceedings, the Commission was free to reconsider the application, together with other applications filed subsequently, to determine which, on a comparative basis, would best serve the public interest, and the Court

Page 309 U. S. 135

of Appeals was without authority by its mandate and by writ of mandamus to forbid this and to require a rehearing of the first application on the record as originally made. P. 309 U. S. 145.

70 App.D.C. 157; 105 F.2d 36, reversed.

Certiorari, 308 U.S. 535, to review an order which granted a writ of mandamus requiring the above-named Commission and its members (a) to set aside its order denying an application of the present respondent and assigning it for rehearing, with other applications for the same broadcasting facilities, and (b) to hear and reconsider the respondent's application on the basis of the record as originally made up when its application was first decided adversely by the Commission and brought before that court on appeal. See 98 F.2d 288.

Page 309 U. S. 136

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