VERIFY: Does the president have the authority to revoke a network TV's license?

No.

QUESTION:

Does the president have the authority to revoke a network TV’s license?

ANSWER:

No. 

SOURCES:

The Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Communications Act

PROCESS:

President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that NBC News made up a story about him wanting to increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal tenfold. He called it "pure fiction." 10 minutes later tweeting "With all the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their license?"

All day people have been firing back at the President comments, some calling it a threat and questioning if he can order a network’s TV license to be revoked.

His latest tweet Wednesday night, Trump stood by his previous statements, saying that network news has become so partisan that licenses must be challenged and revoked if appropriate.


According to The Federal Communications Commission, the agency that regulates radio and television communications, their report from the Public and Broadcasting confirms they license only individual broadcast stations, like WUSA9. But they do not license TV or radio networks like NBC, CBS, ABC, etc.

The agency also says they do not intervene in private disputes involving broadcast stations or their licensees.

In compliance with the first amendment and the Communications Act of 1934, the FCC’s report said it does not substitute their judgment for that of the licensee, nor do they advise stations on “artistic standards, format, grammar, or the quality of their programming.”

Senator Edward Markley called on the FCC to reject Trump’s threats about canceling NBC’s broadcast license.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenwocel later addressed Trump’s claim by tweeting to the president directly this is “Not how it works.”

The president of the National Association of Broadcasters released a statement in response to the President’s tweets, saying: “The founders of our nation set as a cornerstone of our democracy the First Amendment, forever enshrining and protecting freedom of the press. 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.”

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