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U.S. president threatens to revoke broadcast license

The Associated Press

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with reporters in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Wednesday.

The Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump is threatening NBC’s broadcast licenses because he’s not happy with how its news division has covered him. But experts said his threats aren’t likely to lead to any action.

The network itself doesn’t need a license to operate, but individual stations do. NBC owns several stations in major cities. Stations owned by other companies such as Tribune and Cox carry NBC’s news shows and other programs elsewhere. Licenses come from the Federal Communications Commission, an independent government agency whose chairman is a Trump appointee.

Trump tweeted Wednesday, “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!”

He returned to the topic Wednesday night, tweeting: “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!”

NBC spokeswoman Hilary Smith had no comment. The FCC did not respond to messages seeking comment.

These days, license renewals are fairly routine. A station could be deemed unfit and have its license stripped if it were telling lies and spreading fake news, as Trump claims. But Harold Feld of the consumer group Public Knowledge said that’s tough to prove.

“The reality is it is just about impossible to make that showing,” he said. “All this stuff is opinion.”

Although yanking a license is rare, just the threat could put pressure on NBC’s news coverage.

“The words ‘license renewal’ are ones which have had a chilling effect in the past on broadcasters,” said lawyer Floyd Abrams, an expert on the First Amendment, citing Richard Nixon’s attempts to sway news coverage as president. “The threat, however unlikely, is one that broadcasters will have to take seriously.”

Following his tweet, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, “It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write and people should look into it.”Speech

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