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Action for Children’s Television v. Federal Communications Commission

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
564 F.2d 458 (1977)


The public-interest group Action for Children’s Television (ACT) (plaintiff) proposed rules for improving children’s television that included imposing restrictions on commercials. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (defendant) published notice of ACT’s proposal, accepted written comments over a long period of time, and held informal panel discussions and oral arguments on the proposal. However, the FCC ultimately declined to adopt ACT’s proposal. Instead, the FCC adopted a final report and final rules that followed a proposal made by industry representative National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) permitting the television industry to use self-regulation to control the use of commercials in children’s programming. Historically, the FCC had permitted the industry to self-regulate in the area of programming. Also, publicly available records from prior NAB proposals reflected NAB’s advocacy for self-regulation within the industry. ACT petitioned for review in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, arguing that the FCC’s adoption of NAB’s self-regulation proposal represented an abuse of the informal-rulemaking process, because the proposal was negotiated in secret and was not subject to public comment.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Tamm, J.)

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