MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
These cases stem from proceedings conducted by the Federal Communications Commission after requests by Midwest Television
CATV systems receive the signals of television broadcasting stations, amplify them, transmit them by cable or microwave, and ultimately distribute them by wire to the receivers of their subscribers.
The CATV industry has grown rapidly since the establishment of the first commercial system in 1950.
CATV systems perform either or both of two functions. First, they may supplement broadcasting by facilitating satisfactory reception of local stations in adjacent areas in which such reception would not otherwise be possible; and second, they may transmit to subscribers the signals of distant stations entirely beyond the range of local antennae. As the number and size of CATV systems have increased, their principal function has more frequently become the importation of distant signals.
The Commission has on various occasions attempted to assess the relationship between community antenna television systems and its conceded regulatory functions. In 1959, it completed an extended investigation of several auxiliary broadcasting services, including CATV. CATV and TV Repeater Services, 26 F. C. C. 403. Although it found that CATV is "related to interstate transmission," the Commission reasoned that CATV systems are neither common carriers nor broadcasters, and therefore are within neither of the principal regulatory categories created by the Communications Act. Id., at 427-428. The Commission declared that it had not been given plenary authority over "any and all enterprises which happen to be connected with one of the many aspects of communications." Id., at 429. It refused to premise regulation of CATV upon assertedly adverse consequences for broadcasting, because it could not "determine where the impact takes effect, although we recognize that it may well exist." Id., at 431.
The Commission instead declared that it would forthwith seek appropriate legislation "to clarify the situation."
Despite its inability to obtain amendatory legislation, the Commission has, since 1960, gradually asserted jurisdiction over CATV. It first placed restrictions upon the activities of common carrier microwave facilities that serve CATV systems. See Carter Mountain Transmission Corp., 32 F. C. C. 459, aff'd, 321 F.2d 359. Finally, the Commission in 1962 conducted a rule-making proceeding in which it re-evaluated the significance of CATV for its regulatory responsibilities. First Order and Report, supra. The proceeding was explicitly restricted to those systems that are served by microwave, but the Commission's conclusions plainly were more widely relevant. The Commission found that "the likelihood or probability of [CATV's] adverse impact upon potential and existing service has become too substantial to be dismissed." Id., at 713-714. It reasoned that the importation of distant signals into the service areas of local stations necessarily creates "substantial competition" for local broadcasting. Id., at 707. The Commission acknowledged that it could not "measure precisely the degree of . . . impact," but found that "CATV competition can have a substantial negative effect upon station audience and revenues . . . ." Id., at 710-711.
The Commission attempted to "accommodat[e]" the
The Commission in 1965 issued additional notices of inquiry and proposed rule-making, by which it sought to determine whether all forms of CATV, including those served only by cable, could properly be regulated under the Communications Act. 1 F. C. C. 2d 453. After further hearings, the Commission held that the Act confers adequate regulatory authority over all CATV systems. Second Report and Order, supra, at 728-734. It promulgated revised rules, applicable both to cable and to microwave CATV systems, to govern the carriage of local signals and the nonduplication of local programming. Further, the Commission forbade the importation by CATV of distant signals into the 100 largest television markets, except insofar as such service was offered on February 15, 1966, unless the Commission has previously
We must first emphasize that questions as to the validity of the specific rules promulgated by the Commission for the regulation of CATV are not now before the Court. The issues in these cases are only two: whether the Commission has authority under the Communications Act to regulate CATV systems, and, if it has, whether it has, in addition, authority to issue the prohibitory order here in question.
The Commission's authority to regulate broadcasting and other communications is derived from the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. The Act's provisions are explicitly applicable to "all interstate and foreign communication by wire or radio . . . ." 47 U. S. C. § 152 (a). The Commission's responsibilities are no more narrow: it is required to endeavor to "make available. . . to all the people of the United States a rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication service . . . ." 47 U. S. C. § 151. The
Respondents do not suggest that CATV systems are not within the term "communication by wire or radio." Indeed, such communications are defined by the Act so as to encompass "the transmission of . . . signals, pictures, and sounds of all kinds," whether by radio or cable, "including all instrumentalities, facilities, apparatus, and services (among other things, the receipt, forwarding, and delivery of communications) incidental to such transmission." 47 U. S. C. §§ 153 (a), (b). These very general terms amply suffice to reach respondents' activities.
Nor can we doubt that CATV systems are engaged in interstate communication, even where, as here, the intercepted
Nonetheless, respondents urge that the Communications Act, properly understood, does not permit the regulation of CATV systems. First, they emphasize that the
Nor can we obtain significant assistance from the various expressions of congressional opinion that followed the Commission's requests. In the first place, the views of one Congress as to the construction of a statute adopted many years before by another Congress have "very little, if any, significance." Rainwater v. United States, 356 U.S. 590, 593; United States v. Price, 361 U.S. 304, 313; Haynes v. United States, 390 U.S. 85, 87, n. 4. Further, it is far from clear that Congress believed, as it considered these requests for legislation, that the Commission did not already possess regulatory authority over CATV. In 1959, the proposed legislation was preceded by the Commission's declarations that it "did not intend to regulate CATV," and that it preferred to recommend
Second, respondents urge that § 152 (a)
We cannot construe the Act so restrictively. Nothing in the language of § 152 (a), in the surrounding language, or in the Act's history or purposes limits the Commission's authority to those activities and forms of communication that are specifically described by the Act's other provisions. The section itself states merely that the "provisions of [the Act] shall apply to all interstate and foreign communication by wire or radio . . . ." Similarly, the legislative history indicates that the Commission was given "regulatory power over all forms of electrical communication . . . ." S. Rep. No. 781, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., 1. Certainly Congress could not in 1934 have foreseen the development of community antenna television systems, but it seems to us that it was precisely because Congress wished "to maintain, through appropriate administrative control, a grip on the dynamic aspects of radio transmission," F. C. C. v. Pottsville Broadcasting Co., supra, at 138, that it conferred upon the Commission a "unified jurisdiction"
Moreover, the Commission has reasonably concluded that regulatory authority over CATV is imperative if it is to perform with appropriate effectiveness certain of its other responsibilities. Congress has imposed upon the Commission the "obligation of providing a widely dispersed radio and television service,"
The Commission has reasonably found that the achievement of each of these purposes is "placed in jeopardy by the unregulated explosive growth of CATV." H. R. Rep. No. 1635, 89th Cong., 2d Sess., 7. Although CATV may in some circumstances make possible "the realization of some of the [Commission's] most important goals," First Report and Order, supra, at 699, its importation of distant signals into the service areas of local stations may also "destroy or seriously degrade the service offered by a television broadcaster," id., at 700, and thus ultimately deprive the public of the various benefits of a system of local broadcasting stations.
The Commission has been charged with broad responsibilities for the orderly development of an appropriate system of local television broadcasting. The significance of its efforts can scarcely be exaggerated, for broadcasting is demonstrably a principal source of information and entertainment for a great part of the Nation's population. The Commission has reasonably found that the successful performance of these duties demands prompt and efficacious regulation of community antenna television systems. We have elsewhere held that we may not, "in the absence of compelling evidence that such was Congress' intention . . . prohibit administrative action imperative for the achievement of an agency's ultimate purposes." Permian Basin Area Rate Cases, 390 U.S. 747,
There is no need here to determine in detail the limits of the Commission's authority to regulate CATV. It is enough to emphasize that the authority which we recognize today under § 152 (a) is restricted to that reasonably ancillary to the effective performance of the Commission's various responsibilities for the regulation of television broadcasting. The Commission may, for these purposes, issue "such rules and regulations and prescribe such restrictions and conditions, not inconsistent with law," as "public convenience, interest, or necessity requires." 47 U. S. C. § 303 (r). We express no views as to the Commission's authority, if any, to regulate CATV under any other circumstances or for any other purposes.
We must next determine whether the Commission has authority under the Communications Act to issue the particular prohibitory order in question in these proceedings. In its Second Report and Order, supra, the Commission concluded that it should provide summary procedures for the disposition both of requests for special relief and of "complaints or disputes." Id., at 764. It feared that if evidentiary hearings were in every situation mandatory they would prove "time consuming and burdensome" to the CATV systems and broadcasting stations involved. Ibid. The Commission considered that appropriate notice and opportunities for comment or objection must be given, and it declared that "additional procedures, such as oral argument, evidentiary
The Commission, after examination of various responsive pleadings but without prior hearings, ordered that respondents generally restrict their carriage of Los Angeles signals to areas served by them on February 15, 1966, pending hearings to determine whether the carriage of such signals into San Diego contravenes the public interest. The order does not prohibit the addition of new subscribers within areas served by respondents on February 15, 1966; it does not prevent service to other subscribers who began receiving service or who submitted an "accepted subscription request" between February 15, 1966, and the date of the Commission's order; and it does not preclude the carriage of San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, signals to subscribers in new areas of service. 4 F. C. C. 2d 612, 624-625. The order is thus designed simply to preserve the situation as it existed at the moment of its issuance.
Respondents urge that the Commission may issue prohibitory orders only under the authority of § 312 (b), by which the Commission is empowered to issue cease-and-desist orders. We shall assume that, consistent with the requirements of § 312 (c), cease-and-desist orders are proper only after hearing or waiver of the right to hearing. Nonetheless, the requirement does not invalidate the order issued in this case, for we have concluded that the provisions of §§ 312 (b), (c) are inapplicable here. Section 312 (b) provides that a cease-and-desist order may issue only if the respondent "has violated or failed to observe" a provision of the Communications Act or a rule or regulation promulgated by the Commission under the Act's authority. Respondents here were not found
The Commission has acknowledged that, in this area of rapid and significant change, there may be situations in which its generalized regulations are inadequate, and special or additional forms of relief are imperative. It has found that the present case may prove to be such a situation, and that the public interest demands "interim relief . . . limiting further expansion," pending hearings to determine appropriate Commission action. Such orders do not exceed the Commission's authority. This Court has recognized that "the administrative process [must] possess sufficient flexibility to adjust itself" to the "dynamic aspects of radio transmission," F. C. C. v. Pottsville Broadcasting Co., supra, at 138, and that it was precisely for that reason that Congress declined to "stereotyp[e] the powers of the Commission to specific details. . . ." National Broadcasting Co. v. United States, supra, at 219. And compare American Trucking Assns. v. United States, 344 U.S. 298, 311; R. A. Holman & Co. v. S. E. C., 112 U. S. App. D. C. 43, 47-48, 299 F.2d 127,
The judgments of the Court of Appeals are reversed, and the cases are remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS and MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, concurring in the result.
My route to reversal of the Court of Appeals is somewhat different from the Court's. Section 2 (a) of the Communications Act, 47 U. S. C. § 152 (a), says that "[t]he provisions of this chapter shall apply to all interstate and foreign communication by wire or radio . . . ." (Emphasis added.) I am inclined to believe that this section means that the Commission must generally base jurisdiction on other provisions of the Act. This position would not, however, require invalidation of the assertion of jurisdiction before us today. Section 301, 47 U. S. C. § 301, gives the Commission broad authority over broadcasting, and § 303, 47 U. S. C. § 303, confers authority to "[m]ake such regulations not inconsistent with law as it may deem necessary to prevent interference between stations and to carry out the provisions of this chapter" and also the authority to establish areas or zones to be served by any station. The Commission has ample
Even if §§ 301 and 303 in themselves furnish insufficient basis for the Commission to enjoin extraneous interference with the San Diego broadcasting scheme it has authorized, § 2 (a), supra, makes the provisions of the Act, including §§ 301 and 303, applicable to all wire and radio communication. Hence the Commission is authorized to regulate wire communications to implement the ends of §§ 301 and 303, and authorized as well to use its express authority over broadcasting to enforce its specific powers over common carriers by wire.