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U.S. Supreme Court

FCC v. American Broadcasting Co., Inc., 347 U.S. 284 (1954)

Federal Communications Commission v.

American Broadcasting Co., Inc.

Argued February 1, 1954

Decided April 5, 1954*

347 U.S. 284


Regulations of the Federal Communications Commission providing for the denial of licenses to radio and television broadcasting stations which broadcast so-called "give-away" programs, in which prizes are given to persons elected by chance who answer certain questions correctly but who are not required to contribute any money or other valuable consideration held invalid as going beyond the scope of 18 U.S.C. § 1304, and thus exceeding the rulemaking power of the Commission. Pp. 347 U. S. 285-297.

(a) Unless such "give-away" programs are illegal under 18 U.S.C. § 1304, the Commission cannot employ the statute to make them so by agency action. Pp. 347 U. S. 289-290.

(b) The contribution of money or other valuable consideration by the contestants is an essential element of the offense proscribed by 18 U.S.C. § 1304, which forbids the broadcasting of "any lottery, gift enterprise, or similar scheme, offering prizes dependent in whole or in part upon lot or chance." Pp. 347 U. S. 290-291.

(c) The increased advertising value of a "give-away" program resulting from the requirement, direct or indirect, that home contestants listen to the program does not constitute a valuable consideration for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 1304. Pp. 347 U. S. 291-295.

(d) Section 1304 of 18 U.S.C. is a penal statute, and it must be construed strictly. P. 347 U. S. 296.

110 F. Supp. 374, affirmed.

The District Court enjoined enforcement of certain provisions of regulations of the Federal Communications Commission relating to the broadcasting of so-called "give-away" programs. 110 F.Supp. 374. On direct chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 347 U. S. 285

appeal to this Court under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1253 and 2101(b), affirmed, p. 347 U. S. 297.

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