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License revocation proceedings are business litigation matters

In Oregon and all other states, the Federal Communications Commission is the federal agency that regulates the licensing of the broadcast media. The agency oversees and enforces the body of federal regulations that govern the operation, management and licensing  of radio and tv stations. Disputes are properly take up in the administrative law area of business litigation. Recent pronouncements from the executive branch of our government have challenged the right of some broadcast news stations to keep disseminating opinions and reports that are unfavorable to the President.

Can a political official or legislative body challenge the license of a news network because its coverage of the news is inimical to the political entity’s own version of the news?  Such a policy would violate the free speech protections of the First Amendment and would likely fail. The FCC periodically renews licenses on a fairly routine basis. Some licenses have been revoked due to reckless or criminal actions by station owners but those are rare occasions.

The National Association of Broadcasters has stated that it is contrary to the First Amendment for any government official to threaten the revocation of an FCC license because of a difference in policy viewpoints. The fact is that license challenges must be heard by an administrative law judge. From there, an appeal process through the federal courts amply protects the rights of free speech enjoyed by news broadcasters and other programs for that matter. The system of licensing of professional persons such as doctors, nurses or real estate brokers is a process that is administered by state law and state agencies.

Where a complaint to a professional license is filed before an applicable agency in Oregon, a state administrative law judge will hear the challenge to the license. Again, there is an established network of appellate remedies that exist to provide procedural due process protection. When any business entity or professional person encounters a licensing issue or dispute with a state or federal regulatory body, it would be highly beneficial to obtain the guidance of an experienced business litigation attorney who has regularly handled license revocation or suspension proceedings.

Source: time.com, “President Trump Is Talking About Taking Away News Network’s Licenses. Can He Do That?”, Tali Arbel, Oct. 12, 2017

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