The court ruled that it is indeed acting as a private platform, and therefore "not subject to First Amendment constraints on its editorial discretion".
In many cases they are extensively funded by tax payers.
And the fact that these were channels pretty much in existence due to taxpayers. Made them a great target to turn more places into a public forum, in hopes of it also having a ruling that affects social media.
Which is why people were worried about it affecting social media.
I don't think that's accurate at all. Public access channels are TV stations which will broadcast content created by any member of the community. I don't know how they are now, but decades ago in NYC all sorts of bizarre shit got broadcast on public access, from weird conspiracy theories to borderline pornographic material to awful performance art project some NYU or SVA student slapped together. The main thing all the content had in common was that it was ultra-low-budget, since it was usually created by a single person on a cheap video camera.
It was absolutely nothing even remotely like the BBC or PBS, which are both organizations with significant funding and a highly professional staff of people working for them. Most importantly, the BBC and PBS create their own content, while on public access channels the content is created by members of the community. Usually, on public access there's some kind of signup roster where you as a community member put your name in a free slot, and when your time comes you get to play your video. Some public access stations might let community members use their studios or their equipment, but for the most part you're on your own.
The closest thing I could compare it to would be youtube, but without any advertising or search or choice of what to watch. As a viewer, you just had to watch whatever video a random community member played at the time you turned your TV to that station. 99.9% of the time, the content was absolutely bottom of the barrel amateur garbage which probably had close to zero viewers. Frankly, I'm surprised these stations still exist, as these days most people probably get their random user-generated videos from youtube.
ADDED: SCOTUSblog has a writeup. In general, the split decision seems mostly a disagreement over which rather specific facts apply. https://www.scotusblog.com/2019/06/opinion-analysis-court-ho...
In the case of public access cable channels, they are just one alternative out of many for the information they cover. The question of whether an entity is a state actor is somewhat peripheral to the question of Free Speech in the world of 2019.
What if the latest and greatest media technology was the printing press, and only one company made printing presses that were worth a damn, and they never sold but only leased their presses, and they only leased them to Republicans? OctoPressCo wouldn't be a state actor. However, they would be exercising power of such magnitude that it doesn't make a difference. All the while, OctoPressCo and its supporters would be saying, there's still Free Speech. You can always just distribute manually hand-written newspapers, pamphlets, and books!
Viral spread and discovery through social media are a game changing media technology. The people who control a small number of mega-corporations want to grant this power preferentially to a certain political party, while choking it off from big swathes of the population and entire demographics they deem less worthy.
That's not democratic, it's oligarchic. It's also going against the spirit of Free Speech!
If the issue is that a few companies largely control the avenues of discourse, let's just fix the problem at the root and break up those companies. After all, even if they were principled defenders of free speech, we'd still be consigning ourselves to living under essentially benevolent dictators.
"since 2000 a unanimous decision has been more likely than any other result — averaging 36 percent of all decisions. Even when the court did not reach a unanimous judgment, the justices often secured overwhelming majorities, with 7-to-2 or 8-to-1 judgments making up about 15 percent of decisions. The 5-to-4 decisions, by comparison, occurred in 19 percent of cases"
The case for gerrymandering was decided by Ginsburg, Thomas, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Gorsuch.
Here's two more cases not along traditional partisan lines:
It's probably worth noting that the EFF filed an amicus brief essentially arguing against (as I understand it) a broad definition of state actors because of the benefits of having both moderated and unmoderated platforms. So, presumably, this ruling was more in line with their argument than the dissent.
People here usually have a lot of respect for the EFF (rightfully so), but I think people in these comments are focusing more on what 5 judges voted than the issue at hand.
5 Justices said it had not. That doesn't surprise me very much.
It does bring up some interesting questions. Could a governor outsource specific depts and free them from 1st amendment concerns?
At face-value it seems so, which is scary.
It's very scary if the court is arguing that the government can hire a private company to provide a service or perform a task and that private company is not bound by the constitutional responsibilities that the government would've been bound by had it provided the same service or performed the same task.
But I'm struggling to come up with a good analogy that involves private infrastructure that exists only due to government action with a 1st-amendment component.
Sign me up and call me Sinclair.
I am not sure where the govt thinks it can give corporations that power since the corporate entity is a fictitious person created by the govt.
Free speech is a right, the right to travel is a right corporations cannot prevent you from doing either. Arguably the internet is public property.
The line blurs when you offer the public access to your computers but no one has the right to curb your speech. Corporations might have the right to delete data but then they arguably lose the safe haven of simply being a service provider.
There is no intrinsic justification for the bill of rights. There is no reason why we can't enshrine protection from corporations.
No, they aren't.