SW Legal studies in Business

State May Compel Firm to Publish Names of Competitors
Description Tennessee high court held that under state law, in the interest of enhancing telephone competition, the state could require local telephone service providers to publish the names and logos of all telephone competitors in particular markets without violating the commercial speech rights of the publisher.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words Commercial Speech; Regulation
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) requires any local telephone service provider to publish white pages. The TRA requires that the telephone providers publish the names and logos of all competing local telephone service providers on the cover of their white page directories. BellSouth, the dominant firm in the market, appealed this requirement. The appeals court held that TRA had exceeded its authority by ordering the publication of names and logos of competitors on phone book covers and also held that the order violated the First Amendment. The TRA appealed.

Reversed. The TRA was operating under the authority it was granted by the legislature and its regulation does not violate the First Amendment. The regulation is reasonably related to the state's interest in advancing competition in the provision of local telephone services by informing consumers as to the existence of alternative local telephone services. Requiring the names and logos on directory covers does not impose a major burden on telephone companies. Requiring that the logos of all firms be displayed equally with that of the publishing telephone company does not substantially affect the firm's ability to communicate its own speech to customers in the markets.

Citation BellSouth Advertising & Publishing v. Tennessee Regulatory Authority, 79 S.W.3d 506 (Sup. Ct., Tenn., 2002)

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