Trump threatens NBC broadcast licence


President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that he might challenge the licenses of TV networks that are critical of him, pointing to reports that he has categorized as "fake news".

NBC early Wednesday reported Trump queried US military officials over the possibility of increasing the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile by tenfold during a summer meeting.

"In suggesting that a broadcast network's license be targeted because of its coverage, Mr. Trump once again evoked the Watergate era when President Richard M. Nixon told advisers to make it hard for The Washington Post to renew the FCC license for a Florida television station it owned", The New York Times said in its report on the tweet. U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, of Denver, said Trump's suggestion was very bad for the country.

Comcast was down almost 1% to 37.31 in late trading on the stock market today.

Neither the White House nor Comcast/NBC Universal responded for comment on Trump's tweet. That is usually defined as a felony conviction.

During the race for the White House and again in March, Trump suggested that it might be worth loosening libel laws in order to make it easier for people to challenge inaccurate stories, Bloomberg News reported.

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While it seems unlikely that NBC stations would lose licenses because of presidential interference, Democrats in Congress expressed concern that Trump could succeed in attempts to infringe upon the freedom of the press. The article said after Trump saw the slide he said he wanted a bigger stockpile of weapons, not the bottom position on the downward-sloping curve.

The President's denial was buttressed by a statement from his defence chief.

US President Donald J. Trump (R) shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a meeting in the Oval Office. In confirmation hearings for Ajit Pai, we raised this possibility.

Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) wrote a letter to Pai today, urging the chairman to "maintain the FCC's charter as an independent agency and withstand any urges from President Trump to harm the news media and infringe upon the First Amendment". But his latest threat of using the power of the federal government to go after media companies represents a dramatic escalation in his ongoing war against the press.

Others took a more pragmatic view of things.