Trump suggests challenging TV network licenses over 'fake news'
U.S. President Donald Trump suggested challenging media licenses for NBC and other broadcast news networks on Wednesday, delivering his latest salvo against the media after recent NBC News reports about Trump's secretary of state and the country's nuclear arsenal.
"With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!" Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
Trump has repeatedly used the term "fake news" to cast doubt on media reports about his administration, often without providing any evidence to support his case that the reports are not true.
His suggestion that licenses might be challenged would face significant hurdles.
The Federal Communications Commission does not license broadcast networks, but issues licenses to individual broadcast stations that are renewed on a staggered basis for eight-year periods.
Comcast Corp, which owns NBC Universal, also owns 11 broadcast stations, including outlets in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas and Chicago. A Comcast spokeswoman did not immediately comment Wednesday.
A spokesman for FCC chairman Ajit Pai did not immediately comment.
According to a fact sheet on the FCC website, when reviewing licenses the agency must determine if the renewal is in the public interest.
The FCC said in the fact sheet it expects "station licensees to be aware of the important problems and issues facing their local communities and to foster public understanding by presenting programming that relates to those local issues."
The FCC does not issue similar licenses for cable networks like CNN and MSNBC, or regulate internet news or other websites.
The FCC has said First Amendment protections for broadcasters "expressly prohibits the commission from censoring broadcast matter, our role in overseeing program content is very limited." The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and of the press.
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.
In recent days, NBC News has reported on tensions between Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and has said that in July Trump sought a dramatic increase in the country's nuclear Arsenal.