FCC Prohibits Broadcast of False Information

FCC Prohibits Broadcast of False Information | FCC | Mainstream Media Propaganda US News
Editor’s Note: The Federal Communications Commission forbids broadcast station licensees to knowingly transmit news concerning what it deems “hoaxes,” or “false information concerning a crime or a catastrophe.” Broadcasters are required to present a disclaimer before news programming that they know to be false.
Given the large number of dubious events over the past several years, particularly probable active shooter drills presented as real events, this theoretically means that many station owners might be in a bind if actual information came to light concerning such events.
In reality the FCC’s regulatory enforcement is lax and license holders may have plenty of wiggle room, especially if the programming originates from the parent network. The dominant culprits, cable news networks such as CNN and FoxNews, aren’t governed by the FCC.
From the FCC’s Website:

The Commission’s prohibition against the broadcast of hoaxes is set forth at Section 73.1217 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 73.1217.

This rule prohibits broadcast licensees or permittees from broadcasting false information concerning a crime or a catastrophe if:

  1. the licensee knows this information is false;
  2. it is foreseeable that broadcast of the information will cause substantial public harm; and
  3. broadcast of the information does in fact directly cause substantial public harm.

Any programming accompanied by a disclaimer will be presumed not to pose foreseeable harm if the disclaimer clearly characterizes the program as a fiction and is presented in a way that is reasonable under the circumstances.

For purposes of this rule, “public harm” must begin immediately, and cause direct and actual damage to property or to the health or safety of the general public, or diversion of law enforcement or other public health and safety authorities from their duties.

The public harm will be deemed foreseeable if the licensee could expect with a significant degree of certainty that public harm would occur.

A “crime” is any act or omission that makes the offender subject to criminal punishment by law.

A “catastrophe” is a disaster or imminent disaster involving a violent or sudden event affecting the public.

Complaints alleging violation of this rule should be sent to the Federal Communications Commission, Enforcement Bureau, Investigations & Hearings Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20554. Complaints should include the call sign and community of license of the station, the date and time of the broadcast(s) in question, and a detailed description of the public harm caused as a result of the broadcast. In addition, if possible, complaints should include a transcript or recording of the broadcast in question.

About The Author

James F. Tracy's work on media history, politics and culture has appeared in a wide variety of academic journals, edited volumes, and alternative news and opinion outlets. James is editor of Union for Democratic Communication’s Journal Democratic Communiqué and a contributor to Project Censored’s forthcoming publication Censored 2013: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2011-2012. Additional writings and information are accessible at memoryholeblog.com.

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