FCC orders US broadcasters to identify foreign-government sponsors of programmes

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WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The US Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday (April 22) it had voted unanimously to adopt rules requiring public disclosure of broadcast television and radio content sponsored or provided by foreign governments.

The disclosure would be required at the time of a broadcast if a foreign governmental entity paid a radio or television station, directly or indirectly, to air material. Current rules do not specify when and how foreign government sponsorship should be publicly disclosed.

“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.

Democrats in Congress have been pushing the FCC to act for several years.