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Constitutional Law Keyed to Maggs
Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. F.C.C.
Citation:395 U.S. 367 (1969)
The Federal Communications Commission has for many years imposed on radio and television broadcasters the requirement that discussion of public issues be presented on broadcast stations, and that each side of those issues must be given fair coverage. The Red Lion Broadcasting Company is licensed to operate a Pennsylvania radio station, WGCB. In 1964, WGCB carried a 15-minute broadcast by the Reverend Billy James Hargis as part of a “Christian Crusade” series. Cook entitled “Goldwater” was discussed by Hargis, who said that Cook had been fired by a newspaper for making false charges against city officials. When Cook heard of the broadcast he concluded that he had been personally attacked and demanded free reply time, which the station refused. After an exchange of letters among Cook, Red Lion, and the FCC, the FCC declared that the Hargis Broadcast constituted a personal attack on Cook and that Red Lion had failed to meet its obligation under the fairness doctrine.
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