Ashbacker Radio Corp. v. FCC

In Ashbacker Radio Corp. v. FCC, 326 U.S. 327, 66 S.Ct. 148, 90 L.Ed. 108 (1945), the Court held that the FCC dishonored the "full hearing" requirement now stated in 47 U.S.C. 309(e) when it failed to conduct a comparative hearing to determine which of two mutually exclusive broadcast applications would best serve the public interest. Instead of comparing the applications before granting a license, the Commission, on the same day, granted one of them without a hearing and designated the other for a hearing. Since the license facility had already been granted, the hearing that the Commission ordered would have become "in substance one for the revocation or modification of an outstanding license," and the applicant would have been saddled with the burden of attempting "to displace an established broadcaster." 326 U.S. at 332, 333, 66 S.Ct. at 150, 151. In Ashbacker Radio Co. v. FCC, 326 U.S. 327, 333, 66 S.Ct. 148, 151, 90 L.Ed. 108 (1945), the Supreme Court held that "where two bona fide applications are mutually exclusive the grant of one without a hearing to both deprives the loser of the opportunity which Congress chose to give him". In Ashbacker, mutual exclusivity was an established, uncontroverted fact.