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Guide

Broadcasting False Information

Background

Knowingly broadcasting false information concerning a crime or a catastrophe could violate the rules of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Specifics of the FCC’s Rules

The FCC’s rules prohibit holders of broadcast licenses from broadcasting false information concerning a crime or a catastrophe if:

  • the licensee knows the information is false; and
  • the licensee knows beforehand that broadcasting the information will cause substantial “public harm.” The public harm: (1) must begin immediately and cause direct and actual damage to property or the health or safety of the general public; or (2) divert law enforcement or public health and safety authorities from their duties.

Disclaimers

If a broadcast licensee uses a disclaimer that clearly characterizes the program as fiction, and the disclaimer is presented in a way that is reasonable under the circumstances, the program will be presumed not to pose foreseeable public harm.

Filing a Complaint with the FCC

If you think these rules have been violated, you can file a complaint with the FCC. You can file your complaint using an online complaint form. You can also file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554.

What to Include in Your Complaint

The best way to provide all the information the FCC needs to process your complaint is to complete fully the online complaint form. When you open the online complaint form, you will be asked a series of questions that will take you to the particular section of the form you need to complete. If you do not use the online complaint form, your complaint, at a minimum, should indicate:

  • your name, address, email address and phone number where you can be reached;
  • name and phone number of the company that you are complaining about and location (city and state) if the company is a cable or satellite operator;
  • station call sign (KDIU-FM or WZUE TV), radio station frequency (1020 or 88.5) or TV channel (13), and station location (city and state);
  • network, program name and date and time of program if you are complaining about a particular program; and
  • any additional details of your complaint, including time, date and nature of the conduct or activity you are complaining about and identifying information for any companies, organizations, or individuals involved.

For More Information

For information about other telecommunications issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau website, or contact the FCC’s Consumer Center using the information provided for filing a complaint.

Print Out

Broadcasting False Information Guide (pdf)

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