Regulation of Business – Antitrust Laws – Effect Upon a Subsequent Antitrust Suit of FCC Approval of an Exchange of Television Stations

United States v. Radio Corporation of America-Creation of independent regulatory agencies presented the courts with the problem of allocating jurisdiction whenever the determination of proper judicial action was found to require the resolution of issues which an administrative agency was competent to resolve. To meet this problem the doctrine of “primary jurisdiction” was developed whereby administrative issues are to be decided by the agency prior to the court’s determination of issues not within the realm of the agency. Application of the doctrine is based on the need for efficient and uniform agency regulation and the desirability of utilizing agency expertise in regard to issues beyond the conventional experience of judges. Such application is guided by a determination of often-elusive legislative intent. Where appropriate, agency determinations will be conclusive in subsequent judicial proceedings as to matters within the scope of the agency’s power regardless of whether the issue was brought to the agency initially or whether it was referred to the agency under the primary jurisdiction doctrine. It is not surprising that “50 years of constant litigation have failed to formulate the doctrine in a manner which enables litigants to choose the proper forum with a reasonable degree of certainty.”