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Won U.S. Supreme Court

Alliance for Community Media v. Federal Communications Commission

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The 1992 Cable Television Consumer and Protection Act contained multiple rules regarding the regulation of materials that some consider to be offensive. Section 10(a) and 10(c) allowed cable operators to prohibit “patently offensive” content, including pornographic material, on leased access and public access channels, respectively. Meanwhile, Section 10(b) required cable operators for leased access channels to restrict all “patently offensive” material to one channel and only provide access to subscribers who submitted written requests.

Alliance for Community Media challenged Section 10 and claimed it unconstitutionally restricted speech, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said all three provisions were constitutional. Alliance for Community Media appealed to the Supreme Court, and the case was consolidated with Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium v. FCC. Alliance Defending Freedom funded an amicus brief by the Community Defense Council (CDC) arguing that cable companies should have the right to decline to show pornographic material on leased access channels.

The Supreme Court struck down parts of the regulations, but the Court agreed with the D.C. Circuit Court, the CDC, and ADF that Section 10(a) was constitutional, ensuring cable companies cannot be forced to show pornographic material on leased access channels.

Case Documents

U.S. Supreme Court