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FCC votes will require labels on shows sponsored by foreign governments – Deadline

The FCC voted to require stations to disclose when foreign governments rent time on their airwaves, while viewers do not know when other countries exert influence on US media.

The rule, passed by a 4-0 vote, will also require stations to alert viewers when airtime has been purchased by a foreign political party, an agent acting on behalf of a government or party, or a foreign media based in the United States.

Although foreign governments cannot directly hold broadcasting licenses, supporters of the rule say they are leasing more and more time on stations.

FCC Acting President Jessica Rosenworcel cited examples of programs sponsored by Chinese and Russian foreigners.

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She said that “it is not a strictly recent phenomenon”, but that press reports on the prevalence of these programs have multiplied.

The disclosure rule will require standardized language and format, and the message should be broadcast at the start and end of the broadcast.

“It is also a declaration on our national security and the preservation of our democratic values,” said Rosenworcel.

“It’s simple, it’s a matter of transparency and it’s in accordance with the law,” she said.

Last week, Rick Kaplan of the National Association of Broadcasters wrote in a blog post that the FCC was taking a step towards “old world regulation at its worst.”

Although he said the NAB supports foreign government disclosure, “the FCC is now proposing that over-the-air broadcasters enter into rental contracts with any programmers need to take a series of steps to find out if they are dealing with a foreign government in the first place. He argued that the onus will fall on the stations to show that they do not broadcast foreign-sponsored programs.

He wrote: “Each of these stations – and hundreds if not thousands like them – are now on the verge of being mandated to take steps to prove in advance that they are not dealing with foreign governments, even if everyone knows for sure that they are not. . “

Kaplan also pointed to satellite providers like Dish and DirecTV, “which provide foreign government sponsored networks like CGTN and RT America across the country. And let’s not forget the league leader when it comes to content sponsored by foreign governments: the Internet.

In her remarks, Rosenworcel said that when it comes to stations, “all they have to do is ask tenants if they or their programming is from a foreign government entity. And if the answer is yes, a sponsorship ID will need to be aired and documented in the station’s public record. If the answer is no, she said, broadcasters will need to independently verify the tenant using the Justice Department’s Foreign Agency Registration Act and the FCC’s regular foreign media reports.

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