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Radio News: FCC votes for fine for phone company owned by Russians

Apr 21, 2022 11:33 pm

David Shepardson reports for Yahoo Finance that the Federal Communications Commission voted April 21 4-0 to fine London-based Truphone Ltd, the owner of Montana-based iSmart Mobile phone company, $660,639 for exceeding statutory limits for foreign ownership. The fine comes, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel says, because the commission "launched an internal assessment of Russian ownership of telecommunications interests in the United States" after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The FCC now says, "it appears that Truphone’s failure to report truthful and accurate ownership information was egregious. As a result of Truphone’s failure, control of a U.S. common carrier passed to an unvetted foreign entity and associated individuals for more than seven years." FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks says the company has been indirectly owned by "a small group of Russian oligarchs since at least 2011. ... With the importance of the internet and the shifting national security environment facing our nation, protecting our communications networks has never been more critical." “Radio Sputnik,” created by the Russian government's propaganda department, is airing programming on five AM or FM stations in the United States right now. On March 15, a new FCC rule went into effect forcing U.S. broadcasters to disclose any programming provided by foreign governmental entities.