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Tribune Co. v. Oak Leaves Broadcasting Station, Inc.

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
68 Cong. Rec. 215, 69th Cong. (2d. Sess. 1926)


The Chicago Daily Tribune (Tribune) (plaintiff) owned a newspaper and a radio station. The station provided daily programs to an audience exceeding 500,000, located primarily within the City of Chicago. In December 1925, the Tribune began to broadcast on a wavelength of 302.8 meters. No other station in Chicago or Illinois used a wavelength that was sufficiently close to the Tribune’s wavelength to interfere with the Tribune’s programs. In September 1926, a competing station changed its wavelength to a frequency that either matched or was less than 50 kilocycles removed from the Tribune’s wavelength. The competing station was operated by the Oak Leaves Broadcasting Station, Inc., the Coyne Electrical School, Inc., and a Chicago resident named Guyon (broadcasters) (defendants). The Tribune sought to enjoin the broadcasters from operating their station on the Tribune’s wavelength. A lower court issued a temporary restraining order preventing the broadcasters from broadcasting on either the Tribune’s wavelength or a wavelength so close that it interfered with the Tribune’s radio programs. The broadcasters filed a motion to dissolve the order. The Tribune asserted that it had a right to the wavelength, because: (1) the Tribune had used the wavelength for a considerable length of time, (2) the Tribune had spent a considerable amount of money to develop the station, (3) the public associated the wavelength with the Tribune, and (4) the station had a large following. The Tribune also claimed that the competing broadcast would injure its newspaper. The broadcasters asserted that a wavelength cannot be privately controlled and that there was no interference with the Tribune’s program, because the competing station was removed from the Tribune’s wavelength by 40 kilocycles.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning

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