ChinaAugust 16 2022, 15:31 pm

US Court Blocks Effort to Expose Russian and Chinese Influence Operations

US media report­ed last month that a Fed­er­al court had blocked an effort by the FCC, the US broad­cast reg­u­la­tor, to expose Russ­ian and Chi­nese influ­ence oper­a­tions. Accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post report, the court blocked a new reg­u­la­tion requir­ing broad­cast­ers to inves­ti­gate the iden­ti­ties of pro­gram sponsors:

July 14, 2022 An effort from the Fed­er­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion to expose covert Chi­nese and Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da has been blocked by a fed­er­al appeals court. Last year, the FCC direct­ed radio and tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ers to ask spon­sors whether a for­eign gov­ern­ment was involved in the pro­gram and check the answer against a Jus­tice Depart­ment data­base of for­eign agents and the FCC’s online report on U. S.-based for­eign media out­lets. The Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Broad­cast­ers and oth­er trade groups sued, say­ing the new order was an inap­pro­pri­ate bur­den. The three judges — a Trump appointee, an Oba­ma appointee and a George W. Bush appointee — all agreed in a Tues­day rul­ing that cur­rent law impos­es on broad­cast­ers “a duty of inquiry, not a duty of inves­ti­ga­tion,” and that the FCC could not expand that require­ment. “Con­gress chose the means for broad­cast­ers to obtain the infor­ma­tion nec­es­sary to announce who paid for pro­gram­ming,” the pan­el of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the D. C. Cir­cuit ruled. “The FCC can­not alter Congress’s choice.” The FCC and FTC are still hob­bled by vacan­cies. It’s not the first time. Broad­cast TV and radio sta­tions must declare on air when pro­gram­ming has been paid for by a spon­sor. But in deter­min­ing the iden­ti­ties of those spon­sors, cur­rent law requires broad­cast­ers only to con­sult their own employ­ees and the out­side enti­ties they deal with direct­ly. The FCC said in court fil­ings that sys­tem had proved inad­e­quate, cit­ing media reports about the Chi­nese and Russ­ian gov­ern­ments using inter­me­di­aries to get on Amer­i­can air­waves. (For­eign gov­ern­ments are barred from direct­ly own­ing U. S. broad­cast licenses.)

Read the rest here.

Reuters had report­ed ear­li­er on the FCC ratio­nale for the new regulation:

The order increas­es trans­paren­cy, ensur­ing audi­ences are aware when a for­eign gov­ern­ment, or its rep­re­sen­ta­tives, uses the air­waves to per­suade the Amer­i­can pub­lic,” the FCC said in a state­ment. Jes­si­ca Rosen­wor­cel, the agen­cy’s act­ing chair­woman, said reports of for­eign gov­ern­ment-spon­sored pro­gram­ming had mul­ti­plied in recent years.“We know that for­eign enti­ties are pur­chas­ing time on broad­cast sta­tions in mar­kets across the coun­try, includ­ing Chi­nese gov­ern­ment-spon­sored pro­gram­ming and Russ­ian gov­ern­ment-spon­sored pro­gram­ming right here in our nation’s cap­i­tal,” she said in a statement.


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