Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Ruth Walden


In light of the "deregulatory fever" currently in vogue in Washington, claims of a first amendment right of access to the broadcasting media are being heard again. Many groups are hoping to use the Constitution

to fill the access gap that would be left by elimination of policies like the fairness doctrine. Before such an approach can succeed, however, the government action requirement of the first amendment must be met; without state action, the first amendment is simply inapplicable. In this article, the author analyzes previous attempts to apply state action doctrine to broadcasters and the judicial responses they engendered. The author argues that "government function" and "symbiosis" theories of state action are inappropriate for broadcasting and concludes that only the incident-specific "nexus" theory provides a sufficient basis for constitutional inquiry.