The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (defendant) opened a notice-and-comment rulemaking to determine whether to issue a television channel license to Sangamon Valley Television Corporation (Sangamon) (plaintiff) or Signal Hill (defendant). Sangamon was in Springfield, Illinois, and Signal Hill was in St. Louis, Missouri. After the comment period closed, Tenenbaum, Signal Hill’s president, had several meetings with FCC commissioners, during which he advocated for the license to be issued to St. Louis. In addition, Tenenbaum wrote a letter to each commissioner, asserting that the viewership in St. Louis would be higher than in Springfield. The FCC did not put the letters into the formal administrative record. The FCC awarded the license to Signal Hill. Sangamon brought suit to challenge the FCC order.