Office Of Communication Of The United Church Of Christ v. FCC

359 F.2d 994 (D.C. Cir. 1966)


The license for television station WLBT in Jackson, Mississippi was up for renewal. P filed a petition to intervene to present evidence and arguments opposing the renewal application. The complaints against WLBT embrace charges of discrimination on racial and religious grounds and of excessive commercials. To block license renewal, Ps filed a petition in the Commission urging denial of WLBT's application and asking to intervene in their own behalf and as representatives of 'all other television viewers in the State of Mississippi.' P is an instrumentality of the United Church of Christ, a national denomination with substantial membership within WLBT's prime service area. It listed Henry and Smith as individual residents of Mississippi, and asserted that both owned television sets and that one lived within the prime service area of WLBT; both are described as leaders in Mississippi civic and civil rights groups. Dr. Henry is president of the Mississippi NAACP; both have been politically active. Each has had a number of controversies with WLBT over-allotment of time to present views in opposition to those expressed by WLBT editorials and programs. The United Church of Christ at Tougaloo is a congregation of the United Church of Christ within WLBT's area. P claimed that WLBT failed to serve the general public because it provided a disproportionate amount of commercials and entertainment and did not give a fair and balanced presentation of controversial issues, especially those concerning Negroes, who comprise almost forty-five percent of the total population within its prime service area. Ps claimed standing on the grounds that: (1) They are individuals and organizations who were denied a reasonable opportunity to answer their critics, a violation of the Fairness Doctrine. (2) They represent nearly one half of WLBT's potential listening audience who were denied an opportunity to have their side of controversial issues presented, equally a violation of the Fairness Doctrine. P denied the petition to intervene on the ground that standing is predicated upon the invasion of a legally protected interest or an injury which is direct and substantial and that 'P * * * can assert no greater interest or claim of injury than members of the general public.' P appealed.