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03/19/85 Action For Children's v. Federal Communications

March 19, 1985

ACTION FOR CHILDREN'S TELEVISION, PETITIONER

v.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION AND UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENTS CBS, INC., NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF



Before: WRIGHT, GINSBURG,* and SCALIA, Circuit Judges.

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT 1985.CDC.45

BROADCASTERS, WASHINGTON ASSOCIATION FOR TELEVISION AND

CHILDREN, OFFICE OF COMMUNICATION OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF

CHRIST, AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC.,

COMMUNICATION COMMISSION OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF

CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN THE U.S.A., ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT TELEVISION STATIONS, INC., FORWARD

COMMUNICATIONS CORP., et al., NATIONAL BROADCASTING

COMPANY, INC., INTERVENORS

No. 84-1052

Petition for Review of an Order of the Federal Communications Commission

Opinion Per Curiam.

PER CURIAM DECISION

Petitioner Action for Children's Television and supporting intervenors ("petitioners") challenge the Federal Communications Commission's January 4, 1984 Report and Order defining the obligations of television broadcast licensees to their child audiences. See In re Children's Television Programming and Advertising Practices, 96 F.C.C.2d 634 (1984) ("1984 Order"). There the Commission found that the video market, considered as a whole, does not exhibit a clear failure to serve the needs and interests of the child audience, and that mandatory programming rules (including flexible processing guidelines for license renewal applications) raise serious problems of law and policy; and accordingly elected simply to reaffirm "the general licensee obligations emphasized by the Commission in its [ Children's Television Report and Policy Statement, 50 F.C.C.2d 1 (1974) ("1974 Statement"), aff'd sub nom., Action for Children's Television v. FCC, 183 U.S. App. D.C. 437, 564 F.2d 458 (D.C. Cir. 1977)] and . . . the general requirement that stations provide programming responsive to the needs and interests of the communities they serve." 96 F.C.C.2d at 655 (footnote omitted). Petitioners assert that the agency improperly considered the children's programming available from all video sources in finding no market failure warranting more intensive regulation of commercial broadcasting; that it gave insufficient consideration to flexible processing guidelines; that it arbitrarily and without explanation dropped the 1974 Statement's requirement that licensees make a reasonable effort to provide age-specific, informational, and educational children's programming; and that it ignored relevant evidence.

After carefully considering petitioners' arguments, we conclude that the commission's decision was within the broad scope of its discretion and was adequately explained by the 1984 Order. See FCC v. WNCN Listeners Guild, 450 U.S. 582, 593-96, 67 L. Ed. 2d 521, 101 S. Ct. 1266 (1981); NAACP v. FCC, 221 U.S. App. D.C. 44, 682 F.2d 993, 998 (D.C. Cir. 1982). The differences between the 1984 Order and the 1974 Statement are attributable to changes in the Commission's judgment about how best to serve the public interest, convenience and necessity, and the reasons for these changes are stated in the Order with sufficient clarity to withstand ...


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