Monday, 18 December, 2017

Donald Trump threatens NBC TV licences after story on nuclear buildup

Bennie Garza | 13 October, 2017, 15:14

"@FCC Chairman Ajit Pai must immediately condemn Trump's threat to remove broadcaster licenses because he disagrees with their reporting", tweeted Rep. Comcast was down 0.8 percent, while Disney shed 1.4 percent.

Comcast was down 0.8 per cent, while Disney shed 1.4 per cent. CBS Corp fell 1.2 per cent and Twenty-First Century Fox slid 2.8 per cent.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was not available for comment at press time, but he has pledged to Congress that he would not act in a manner that stifles or penalizes free speech "even if requested by the administration".

While the commissioners of the FCC are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate, the agency's relative independence is there by design to push back on situations where someone in the executive branch would attempt to dampen the free speech protections provided to licensed broadcasters.

The FCC doesn't license networks.

But while Pai was previously willing to criticize unnamed people on Twitter for demanding license revocations, Democratic lawmakers want him to stand up to the president. "This threat alone could intimidate the press and lead to skewed and unfair reporting".

Mr Trump's tweet came in response to a story written by NBC, which said that Mr Trump had sought to increase America's nuclear arsenal tenfold after taking a look at a briefing slide that showed steady reduction of the United States nuclear arsenal since the 1960s. It issues licenses to owners of television stations, which must be periodically renewed. Licenses are issued to individual stations, not networks per se.

The FCC has said the First Amendment "expressly prohibits the commission from censoring broadcast matter" and that its role "in overseeing program content is very limited".

Still, the presidential threat evoked memories of intimidation by President Richard Nixon, who urged his lieutenants to interfere with the renewal of the Washington Post's licenses for Florida TV stations in 1972.

NBC News has reported on tensions between Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and has said Trump sought a dramatic increase in the us nuclear arsenal during a meeting with national security advisers in July.

Mr Tillerson last week refused to confirm that he had called the President that, and Mr Trump has said that those reports are fake news.

Trump may have been referring to the "Fairness Doctrine" that was created to ensure broadcasters present opposing viewpoints about public issues.

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