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U.S. Supreme Court

Radio Corp. of America v. United States, 341 U.S. 412 (1951)

Radio Corporation of America v. United States

No. 565

Argued March 26-27, 1951

Decided May 28, 1951

341 U.S. 412


After extensive hearings on, and demonstrations of, three different methods of color television transmission, the Federal Communications Commission issued an order which, in effect, permits use of the method of Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and excludes use of others. This order was based upon findings that the CBS method was the best presently available, and had reached a state of development which justified its acceptance to the exclusion of others, though color telecasts by the CBS method could not be received either in color or in black and white on the millions of existing black and white receivers without costly adaptations. Subsequently, the Commission declined to reopen the proceedings at the request of Radio Corporation of America (RCA), which claimed to have made great advances toward a method of color television transmission which could be received in black and white on existing black and white receivers without any adaptation. The District Court dismissed a suit by RCA to enjoin and set aside the Commission's order.


1. The District Court did not fail to review the record as a whole in determining that the Commission's order was supported by substantial evidence. Pp. 341 U. S. 414-416.

2. The District Court did not misapprehend or misapply the proper judicial standard in holding that the Commission's order was not arbitrary or against the public interest as a matter of law. Pp. 341 U. S. 416-420.

(a) Viewing the record as a whole, the Commission did not err as a matter of law in concluding that the CBS color method had reached a state of development which justified its acceptance to the exclusion of others. Pp. 341 U. S. 416-419.

(b) The Commission's determination, after hearing evidence on all sides, that the CBS method will provide the public with color television of good quality and that television viewers should be given an opportunity to receive it if they so desire, was not capricious. Pp. 341 U. S. 419-420. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 341 U. S. 413

(c) Courts should not overrule an administrative decision merely because they disagree with its wisdom. P. 341 U. S. 420.

3. Whether the Commission should have reopened its proceedings to permit RCA to offer proof of new discoveries for its method was a question within the discretion of the Commission, and that discretion was not abused. Pp. 341 U. S. 420-421.

95 F.Supp. 660 affirmed.

A three-judge district court sustained an order of the Federal Communications Commission prescribing standards for color television transmission. 95 F.Supp. 660. On direct appeal to this Court under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1253 and 2101(b), affirmed, p. 341 U. S. 421. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 341 U. S. 414

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