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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Storer Broadcasting Co., 351 U.S. 192 (1956)

United States v. Storer Broadcasting Co.

No. 94

Argued February 28-29, 1956

Decided May 21, 1956

351 U.S. 192


After rulemaking proceedings under the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, in which respondent appeared, filed written objections and argued orally, the Federal Communications Commission amended its rules so as to provide, in effect, that it would issue no license for an additional television broadcast station to any party already having five such stations. On the same day, applying this rule, the Commission dismissed, without hearing, respondent's application for a license for an additional television broadcast station, because respondent already had five such stations. Under the Communications Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and 5 U.S.C. § 1034, respondent applied to the Court of Appeals for review of the Commission's order amending its rule.


1. Though the question of respondent's right to appeal was not raised by either party or by the Court of Appeals, it may be considered by this Court. P. 351 U. S. 197.

2. Respondent had standing to bring this action. Pp. 351 U. S. 198-200.

(a) The process of rulemaking having been completed, the amended rules constituted final agency action within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act. Pp. 351 U. S. 198-199.

(b) The amended rules presently "aggrieve" respondent. Pp. 351 U. S. 199-200.

3. Section 309(b) of the Communications Act, which requires a "full hearing" before denial of an application for a license, does not prevent the Commission from adopting the rules here involved limiting the number of broadcast stations that will be licensed to any one party. Pp. 351 U. S. 200-206.

(a) Section 309 (b) entitles each applicant for a license to a "full hearing," including the right to present his case or defense by oral or documentary evidence, to submit rebuttal evidence, and to conduct such cross-examination as may be required for a full and true disclosure of the facts. P. 351 U. S. 202.

(b) However, § 309(b) does not withdraw from the Commission the rulemaking authority necessary for the orderly conduct of its business. Pp. 351 U. S. 202-203.

Page 351 U. S. 193

(c) Nor does § 309(b) bar rules that declare a present intent to limit the number of stations consistent with a permissible "concentration of control." Pp. 351 U. S. 203-205.

(d) The Act and rules are to be read as providing a "full hearing" for applicants who have reached the existing limit of stations, upon presentation of proper applications that set out adequate reasons why the rules should be waived or amended. The Act, considered as a whole, requires no more. P. 351 U. S. 205.

95 U.S.App.D.C. 97, 220 F.2d 204, reversed and remanded.

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