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Radio News: NAB objects to FCC foreign ownership rules proposal

Jan 12, 2023 11:40 pm

Randy J. Stine reports in Radio World that the National Association of Broadcasters is not happy with new rules the Federal Communications Commission proposed to strengthen the process for identifying governmental entities sponsorship of programming. The new rules are proposed after several foreign governments broadcast propaganda in the United States. For instance, in 2015 a California company, G&E Studio, broadcasting in more than a dozen major American cities, was discovered to be backed by a subsidiary of the Chinese government. G&E Studio is 60 percent owned by a subsidiary of Chinese state-run radio broadcaster China Radio International. The National Association of Broadcasters does not seem to have an ideological opposition to the proposal, but objects because broadcasters have to spend time and money to fill out forms and prove who owns their stations. An NAB statement on the issue said, "We share the FCC’s goal of ensuring that the public understands when it is watching or listening to foreign government-sponsored propaganda. While there are very few instances of this type of programming airing, we continue to work with the commission to right-size its rules concerning on-air identification. The FCC can achieve its goals by placing regulatory burdens only on those airing such programming rather than the entire industry. The vast majority of broadcasters never has and never will air propaganda on behalf of a foreign government.” So the FCC should just trust broadcasters to ask for regulatory burdens? Wouldn't a company broadcasting propaganda be incentivized not to ask for regulatory burdens? A first FCC attempt to adopt new disclosure requirements was overturned by federal appeals court in July 2022, with the court ruling the FCC had no authority to impose a verification requirement. Anyone can make a comment on the FCC's proposal MB Docket 20-299 by Jan. 24 by using the commission’s online system.