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Potential FCC Actions Against “Fake News”: The News Distortion Policy and the Broadcast Hoax Rule
Communication Law and Policy  (IF),  Pub Date : 2019-01-02, DOI: 10.1080/10811680.2018.1551020
Joel Timmer

President Donald Trump has threatened to revoke broadcasters’ licenses for airing what he calls “fake news.” While many dismissed his threat as empty, the FCC does have a news distortion policy and a broadcast hoax rule, either of which might be used to target fake news stories. Both the policy and the rule require elements in addition to the falsity of a story for a violation to have occurred, which narrow their applicability and help limit any chilling effect they might have. These narrowing elements also make it likely the policy and rule would both survive First Amendment scrutiny, but also make it unlikely they could be used to target the types of stories Trump complains about the most.