Knowingly broadcasting false information concerning a crime or a catastrophe may 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.
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.