The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 requires cable operators to reserve channels for public access. New York law mandates free public-access channels on a first-come, first-serve basis operated by cable operators, unless local governments operate the channels themselves or designate private entities to do so. Time Warner operates Manhattan’s cable system and reserves public-access channels in accordance with New York law. New York City designated Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN), a private entity run by Manhattan Community Access Corporation (MCAC) (codefendants), to operate the public-access channels in Manhattan. MNN producers Deedee Halleck and Jesus Papoleto Melendez (plaintiffs) made a controversial film alleging MNN neglected East Harlem communities. After MNN suspended Halleck and Melendez, they sued MNN and MCAC, alleging that blocking them from using public-access channels because of the film’s content violated their First Amendment free-speech rights. The trial court dismissed the suit, reasoning that MNN was not a state actor and therefore not subject to First Amendment protections. But the Second Circuit reversed in part, concluding that MNN was a state actor. The United States Supreme Court granted review.