Trump challenges TV network licenses

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 13, 2017

Trump later dealt with the issue during a joint media appearance with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, telling a questioner: "It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write". "Network news has become so partisan, distorted, and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked", he tweeted. "Bad for country!" Trump, a Republican, wrote in a post on Twitter on Wednesday. He called for a hearing on the matter.

ABC, owned by Walt Disney, declined to comment. This threat alone may already be chilling free speech across the country. Comcast owns 10 NBC stations, including in NY and Los Angeles, and it said in a filing this year that "substantially all of our broadcast television station licenses have pending applications for renewal". Setting aside the fact that the FCC doesn't license cable channels, these demands are fundamentally at odds with our legal and cultural traditions.

After a succession of tweets making not-so-veiled threats to "challenge" the broadcast licenses of TV news organizations, one of the Federal Communications Commission's commissioners schooled President Donald J. Trump that is "not how it works". "Not fair to public!"

"It is contrary to this fundamental right for any government official to threaten the revocation of an FCC license simply because of a disagreement with the reporting of a journalist", Smith said in a statement.

The FCC issues licences to owners of television stations, which must be periodically renewed. Comcast owns 10 NBC stations, including in NY and Los Angeles. The agency's own broadcast guide says "the FCC can not prevent the broadcast of any particular point of view".

In the early 1970s, then-President Richard Nixon and his top aides discussed using the FCC's license renewal process as a way of punishing the Washington Post for its coverage of the Watergate burglary that ultimately brought down his presidency.

Lawmakers of both parties reacted to Trump.

The report about Mr Trump's nuclear arsenal said that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all pushed back on the nuclear ambitions, and that Mr Tillerson called the President a "moron" following the meeting. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, tweeted, "The FCC must show it is more loyal to the law than the President".

Jessica Rosenworcel, a member of the FCC's Democratic minority, said in a tweet that "Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our democracy".

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