Trump threat­ens NBC, but lit­tle risk seen

Yuma Sun - - DESERT LIFE -

NEW YORK — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is threat­en­ing NBC’s broad­cast li­censes be­cause he’s not happy with how its news di­vi­sion has cov­ered him. But ex­perts say 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!”

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 says that’s tough to prove.

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

Feld said he can re­call just two in­stances in the past 20 years when there has been a re­newal chal­lenge. One in­volved an owner of ra­dio sta­tions who was con­victed of child mo­lesta­tion, and the other when some­one died as part of a ra­dio sta­tion’s con­test. Both lost their li­censes.

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.”

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