The radio trusts were not the only media conglomerates subject to federal scrutiny during the Roosevelt years. In 1945 the federal government determined that the Associated Press (AP) contract with its affiliated newspapers was a violation of the Sherman Act antitrust rules. AP argued that the government was in violation of the free press clause of the First Amendment. Writing for the majority in Associated Press v. U.S. (1945), Justice Hugo Black ruled against AP and clarified that freedom of the press was not designed to serve the private press.
“The First Amendment,” he wrote, “rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public, that a free press is a condition of a free society.” Neither Black’s nor Holmes’s ideas about free speech have meant a right to access either public or private forums without restriction.
In general, government can limit the time, place, and manner of speech if those restrictions are not because of the impact or intent of the speech. In other words, the restrictions must be content-neutral. Even if the speech occurs in a public forum, such as a park or a city street, the government may impose narrow restrictions if it can show that the regulation is necessary to address a significant government interest.