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RTDNA condemns presidential threat to go after networks’ ‘license’

October 11, 2017 12:30

The RTDNA Voice of the First Amendment Task Force today condemned President Trump’s Twitter threat to go after the “license” of NBC and “the Networks” for what he called “Fake News.”

The threat came ten minutes after the president tweeted criticism of an NBC News report stating the Trump administration wanted to increase the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, and also used that particular tweet to throw a jab at CNN.

“Today’s call by the President of the United States to challenge the licenses of networks is not only dangerous to the American people’s right to access responsible journalism, it represents a clear misunderstanding on his part of how much control the federal government can exercise as it relates to networks and cable channels,” said Dan Shelley, RTDNA Executive Director.
Broadcast licenses are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, but the FCC does not license broadcast networks. Nor does it license cable channels, and it regulates cable channels only in a very limited way. That means if Mr. Trump wants to challenge the “license” of NBC, his only recourse under current law would be to go after the licenses of the network’s 11 owned local television stations.
The task force believes that would punish the people in the communities served by those 11 stations much more than the network itself.
Earlier this week, on October 9, three of NBC’s-owned television stations received a total of six prestigious RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Awards for outstanding responsible broadcast and digital journalism:
  • KXAS-TV, Dallas-Forth Worth, received Murrows for Overall Excellence, Breaking News for its coverage of last year’s ambush of Dallas police officers, Investigative Reporting for uncovering problems with the Dallas school bus system that was putting children’s lives at risk, And Excellence in Sound for an uplifting story about a local high school’s mariachi music program.
  • WCAU-TV, Philadelphia, received the Murrow for Excellence in Innovation, for an interactive examination of the opioid addiction crisis in and around Philadelphia.
  • WRC-TV, Washington, received the Murrow for Website.
“These Murrow-winning examples of outstanding broadcast and digital journalism, like all of our winners this year and in each year since 1971, demonstrate that outstanding responsible journalism is essential to the daily lives of people in the communities served by their local news organizations,” Shelley added. “Every day across America, countless radio, television and digital newsrooms are performing their Constitutionally-guaranteed duty to seek and report the truth. The president’s advocacy of challenging the licenses of news organizations he happens not to agree with is both outrageous and dangerous.”
Since Mr. Trump also mentioned CNN in one of his “Fake News” tweets today, it is worth noting that CNN received three Murrow Awards this week in the network television category:
  View a complete list of this year’s RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award winners here.
RTDNA formed the nonpartisan Voice of the First Amendment Task Force early this year to defend against threats to the First Amendment and news media access, and to help the public better understand why responsible journalism is essential to their daily lives. It is a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, the archive of record for threats to press freedom in America. Reach out to the task force by emailing pressfreedom@rtdna.org.


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