« ForrigeFortsett »
Opinion of the Court.
oppose the majority will. Thus, a balance of 3 per cent of those interviewed were firmly opposed to the
use of radios in transit vehicles." Ibid. 2. Statutory authority.—Apart from the constitutional issues, the order of the Commission dismissing its investigation was in accord with its prescribed statutory procedure and within the discretion properly vested in the Commission by Congress.
Transit radio service is a new income-producing incident of the operation of railway properties. The profit arises from the rental of facilities for commercial advertising purposes. This aspect of the enterprise bears some relation to the long-established practice of renting space for visual advertising on the inside and outside of streetcars and busses.
Through these programs Capital Transit seeks to improve its public relations. To minimize objection to the
6 A comparable survey, made April 1-7, 1949, under the same direction, produced substantially the same result. The weight to be attached to these surveys was a proper matter for determination by the Commission.
The Commission invited views as to the radio service to be given to it freely, either through sworn testimony or otherwise. Many citizens' associations appeared or filed resolutions favoring or opposing the radio service. A large majority favored the service.
That the Commission gave consideration to the intensity and nature of the individual objections raised appears from the following:
"In general, the objections raised by individuals who attended the hearings radios in transportation vehicles were based upon the following reasons, among others:
"It interfered with their thinking, reading, or chatting with their companions; it would lead to thought control; the noise was unbearable; the commercials, announcements, and time signals were annoying; the music was of the poorest class; the practice deprived them of their right to listen or not to listen; they were being deprived of their property rights without due process; their health was being impaired; the safety of operation was threatened because of the effect of radios upon the operators of the vehicles.” 81 P. U. R. (N. S.), at 124.
Opinion of the Court.
advertising features of the programs, it requires that at least 90% of the radio time be used for purposes other than commercials and announcements. This results in programs generally consisting of 90% music, 5% news, weather reports and matters of civic interest, and 5% commercial advertising. The advertising is confined to statements of 15 to 30 seconds each. It occupies a total of about three minutes in each hour.
In view of the findings and conclusions of the Commission, there can be little doubt that, apart from the constitutional questions here raised, there is no basis for setting aside the Commission's decision. It is within the statutory authority of the Commission to prohibit or to permit and regulate the receipt and amplification of radio programs under such conditions that the total utility service shall not be unsafe, uncomfortable or inconvenient.
3. Applicability of the First and Fifth Amendments.It was held by the court below that the action of Capital Transit in installing and operating the radio receivers, coupled with the action of the Public Utilities Commission in dismissing its own investigation of the practice, sufficiently involved the Federal Government in responsibility for the radio programs to make the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States applicable to this radio service. These Amendments concededly apply to and restrict only the Federal Government and not private persons. See Corrigan v. Buckley, 271 U. S. 323, 330; Talton v. Mayes, 163 U. S. 376,
"AMENDMENT [I.] "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech
"AMENDMENT [V.] "No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; ...
Opinion of the Court.
382, 384; Withers v. Buckley, 20 How. 84, 89–91; Barron v. The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243; see also, Virginia v. Rives, 100 U. S. 313, 318.
We find in the reasoning of the court below a sufficiently close relation between the Federal Government and the radio service to make it necessary for us to consider those Amendments. In finding this relation we do not rely on the mere fact that Capital Transit operates a public utility on the streets of the District of Columbia under authority of Congress. Nor do we rely upon the fact that, by reason of such federal authorization, Capital Transit now enjoys a substantial monopoly of street railway and bus transportation in the District of Columbia. We do, however, recognize that Capital Transit operates its service under the regulatory supervision of the Public Utilities Commission of the District of Columbia which is an agency authorized by Congress. We rely particularly upon the fact that that agency, pursuant to protests against the radio program, ordered an investigation of it and, after formal public hearings, ordered its investigation dismissed on the ground that the public safety, comfort and convenience were not impaired thereby. 81 P. U. R. (N. S.), at 126.
We, therefore, find it appropriate to examine into what restriction, if any, the First and Fifth Amendments place upon the Federal Government under the facts of this case, assuming that the action of Capital Transit in operating the radio service, together with the action of the Commission in permitting such operation, amounts to suffi
8 "[W]hen authority derives in part from Government's thumb on the scales, the exercise of that power by private persons becomes closely akin, in some respects, to its exercise by Government itself.” American Communications Assn. v. Douds, 339 U. S. 382, 401. Cf. Smith v. Allwright, 321 U. S. 649; and see Olcott v. The Supervisors, 16 Wall. 678, 695–696.
Opinion of the Court.
cient Federal Government action to make the First and Fifth Amendments applicable thereto.
4. No violation of the First Amendment.-Pollak and Martin contend that the radio programs interfere with their freedom of conversation and that of other passengers by making it necessary for them to compete against the programs in order to be heard. The Commission, however, did not find, and the testimony does not compel a finding, that the programs interfered substantially with the conversation of passengers or with rights of communication constitutionally protected in public places. It is suggested also that the First Amendment guarantees a freedom to listen only to such points of view as the listener wishes to hear. There is no substantial claim that the programs have been used for objectionable propaganda. There is no issue of that kind before us. The inclusion in the programs of a few announcements explanatory and commendatory of Capital Transit's own services does not sustain such an objection.
5. No violation of the Fifth Amendment.—The court below has emphasized the claim that the radio programs are an invasion of constitutional rights of privacy of the passengers. This claim is that no matter how much Capital Transit may wish to use radio in its vehicles as part of its service to its passengers and as a source of income, no matter how much the great majority of its passengers may desire radio in those vehicles, and however positively the Commission, on substantial evidence,
9 See generally, Shipley, Some Constitutional Aspects of Transit Radio, 11 F. C. Bar J. 150.
The Communications Act of 1934, 48 Stat. 1064 et seq., as amended, 47 U. S. C. $ 151 et seq., has been interpreted by the Federal Communications Commission as imposing upon each licensee the duty of fair presentation of news and controversial issues. F. C. C. Report on Editorializing by Licensees, 1 Pike & Fischer Radio Regulation 91:201 (1949).
Opinion of the Court.
may conclude that such use of radio does not interfere with the convenience, comfort and safety of the service but tends to improve it, yet if one passenger objects to the programs as an invasion of his constitutional right of privacy, the use of radio on the vehicles must be discontinued. This position wrongly assumes that the Fifth Amendment secures to each passenger on a public vehicle regulated by the Federal Government a right of privacy substantially equal to the privacy to which he is entitled in his own home. However complete his right of privacy may be at home, it is substantially limited by the rights of others when its possessor travels on a public thoroughfare or rides in a public conveyance. Streetcars and busses are subject to the immediate control of their owner and operator and, by virtue of their dedication to public service, they are for the common use of all of their passengers. The Federal Government in its regulation of them is not only entitled, but is required, to take into consideration the interests of all concerned.
In a public vehicle there are mutual limitations upon the conduct of everyone, including the vehicle owner. These conflicting demands limit policies on such matters as operating schedules and the location of car or bus stops, as well as policies relating to the desirability or nature of radio programs in the vehicles. Legislation prohibiting the making of artifically amplified raucous sounds in public places has been upheld. Kovacs v. Cooper, 336 U. S. 77.10 Conversely, where a regulatory body has jurisdiction, it will be sustained in its protection of activities in public places when those activities do not interfere with the general public convenience, comfort
10 The interest of some unwilling listeners was there held to justify some limitation on the freedom of others to amplify their speech. The decision, however, did not indicate that it would violate constitutional rights of privacy or due process for the city to authorize some use of sound trucks and amplifiers in public places.