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Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission

518 U.S. 727 (1996)

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Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium, Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission

United States Supreme Court

518 U.S. 727 (1996)

Facts

There are two types of federally regulated cable channels. The first is a leased channel, which is a type of channel that federal law requires cable operators to reserve for commercial leases to unaffiliated third parties. Cable operators generally have 10 to 15 percent of their channels reserved as leased channels. The second is a public-access channel, which is a public, educational, or governmental channel provided to a local government in exchange for the ability to run cable lines in public rights-of-way. Between 1984 and 1992, cable operators were prohibited by federal law from exercising any editorial control over either of these types of channels. Congress then adopted the Television Consumer Protections and Competition Act of 1992. Under § 10(a) of the statute, cable operators were permitted to establish written policies governing sexually explicit programming on leased channels and enforce those policies prospectively. Under § 10(b), cable operators that chose to permit sexually explicit programming were required to segregate such programming to a single channel and block that channel unless the subscriber submitted a written request to access the channel. The cable operators could take as long as 30 days to unblock the channel and as long as 30 days to return the block to the channel after such a request was submitted. Under § 10(c), cable operators were permitted to establish written policies governing sexually explicit programming on public-access channels. The Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium (plaintiff) sued the Federal Communications Commission (defendant), seeking a ruling that the statutory provisions regarding explicit programming were unconstitutional. A federal court held that the provisions were constitutional, and the consortium appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Breyer, J.)

Concurrence (Souter, J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Thomas, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (O’Connor, J.)

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