KMEG Television Inc. v. Iowa State Board of Regents was a case before the Iowa Supreme Court in 1989 concerning the applicability of open records laws to private corporations.
This case established a number of important precedents:
1.) That subcontracting bid records conducted by a private agency employed by a public body are not public records.
2.) Established a 2 prong test for making the records of private companies serving a public function subject to the Iowa Open Records Law. This was later overturned by Gannon and Nichols v. Iowa Board of Regents.
- The University of Iowa hired Rasmussen Communications Management Corporation (Rasmussen) to market and manage the broadcasts of all of the Universities Intercollegiate sporting events for the 1987-1988 academic year. The final agreement involved the sale of all broadcast and marketing rights for the year in exchange for $1,300,000.
- Under the contract Rasmussen had to develop a network of state stations, covering at least 75% of the state which would broadcast games which were not already nationally televised.
- KMEG was one of many local stations to submit a bid to Rasmussen to become a part o this network. However, one of KMEG's competitors was selected for its region.
- KMEG submitted a records request to the University of Iowa and Rasmussen for records relating to the bids submitted in their area.
- The University denied the request claiming that it had no part in the bid process. Rasmussen denied the request claiming that it was a private company and thus not subject to records requests.
- KMEG filed suit to compel the release of the records.
- The trial court ruled in favor of the University and KMEG appealed the decision.
Ruling of the court
The trial court ruled in favor of the University declaring that the university was never in possession of the records sought by KMEG. Thus, the records were not considered public records.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court. Citing Dubuque v. Dubuque Racing Association, Ltd and Howard v. Des Moines Register & Tribune Co., the court determined that the records in question did not belong to the university nor were they held by the University in its official capacity. Based on this the court determined that the records in question were not public records. The court also rejected the claim that the mere existence of a substantial contract implied that a private agency was acting "on behalf of" a public body. Finally, the court established that Rasmussen was not liable as a public corporation because the transferal of broadcasting rights did not constitute a transferal of a core function of the University. Based on all these factors the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court and ruled in favor of the University and Rasmussen.