MANHATTAN COMMUNITY ACCESS CORP. v. HALLECK | The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

Case Overview

Action

"MNN is not a state actor subject to the First Amendment."

Facts/Syllabus

"New York state law requires cable operators to set aside channels on their cable systems for public access. Those channels are operated by the cable operator unless the local government chooses to itself operate the channels or designates a private entity to operate the channels. New York City (the City) has designated a private nonprofit corporation, petitioner Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN), to operate the public access channels on Time Warner’s cable system in Manhattan. Respondents DeeDee Halleck and Jesus Papoleto Melendez produced a film critical of MNN to be aired on MNN’s public access channels. MNN televised the film. MNN later suspended Halleck and Melendez from all MNN services and facilities. The producers sued, claiming that MNN violated their First Amendment free-speech rights when it restricted their access to the public access channels because of the content of their film. The District Court dismissed the claim on the ground that MNN is not a state actor and therefore is not subject to First Amendment constraints on its editorial discretion. Reversing in relevant part, the Second Circuit concluded that MNN is a state actor subject to First Amendment constraints."

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