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U.S. Supreme Court

Los Angeles v. Preferred Communications, 476 U.S. 488 (1986)

City of Los Angeles v. Preferred Communications, Inc.

No. 85-390

Argued April 29, 1986

Decided June 2, 1986

476 U.S. 488


Respondent sued petitioners, the city of Los Angeles and its Department of Water and Power (DWP), in Federal District Court, alleging, inter alia, a violation of its rights under the First Amendment by reason of (1) the city's refusal to grant respondent a cable television franchise on the ground that respondent had failed to participate in an auction for a single franchise in the area and (2) DWP's refusal to grant access to poles or underground conduits used for power lines. The District Court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

Held: The complaint should not have been dismissed. The activities in which respondent allegedly seeks to engage plainly implicate First Amendment interests. Through original programming or by exercising editorial discretion over which stations or programs to include in its repertoire, respondent seeks to communicate messages on a wide variety of topics and in a wide variety of formats. But where speech and conduct are joined in a single course of action, the First Amendment values must be balanced against competing societal interests. Thus, where the city has made factual assertions to justify restrictions on cable television franchising and these assertions are disputed by respondent, there must be a fuller development of the disputed factual issues before this Court will decide the legal issues. Accordingly, the case will be remanded to the District Court so that petitioners may file an answer and the material factual disputes may be resolved. Pp. 476 U. S. 493-496.

754 F.2d 1396, affirmed and remanded.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which MARSHALL and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined, post, p. 476 U. S. 496.

Page 476 U. S. 490

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