In a 49-page decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 to overturn a federal law banning public television stations from accepting public issue and political advertising.
In Minority Television Project, Inc. v. FCC (Case No. 09-17311), the appeals court reversed the trial court, holding that the federal law restriction was unconstitutional. The FCC fined San-Francisco based KMTP-TV $10,000 for airing paid promotional messages from for-profit companies in violation of 47 U.S.C. sec. 399(b). The statute bars public broadcasters from being compensated for messages for (1) for-profit cos., (2) that express personal views and (3) political messages supporting candidates.
The Ninth Circuit upheld the proscription regarding for-profit companies (and therefore, the $10k fine), but found the law's remaining provisions violative of the First Amendment.