Broadcasters Ask FCC to Stay Order Requiring Disclosures of Foreign Government Sponsored Programming

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(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Association of Broadcasters, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) have filed a petition with the FCC asking for a stay of the Commission's order mandating disclosures for foreign government-sponsored programming. 

The petition requested the Commission delay implementation of its order until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rules on a petition for review filed by NAB, MMTC and NABOB challenging the order. 

The petition noted that “petitioners are likely to succeed on the merits because the Order flatly contravenes Section 317 of the Communications Act, violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and unduly burdens speech in contravention of the First Amendment.”

It also argued that “petitioners’ members and constituents will suffer irreparable harm absent a stay because the Order will require many of them to spend tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire and train employees to conduct the required investigations, as well as engage counsel to review their lease agreements and negotiate with lessees to bring existing leases into compliance with the Order. These unrecoverable costs unreasonably and unnecessarily burden the operations, resources and programming arrangements of broadcast stations across the country. The balance of hardships and the public interest also favor a stay because the likely harm from requiring broadcasters to undertake these efforts for thousands of lease agreements— the vast majority of which have no possible connection to foreign governmental entities— outweighs the benefit of such a requirement.”

The FCC order was issued in response to widespread concerns in recent years about foreign interference in U.S. elections. 

Broadcasters have opposed the April 1, 2021 FCC draft report and order requiring disclosure of foreign government-sponsored programming as being overly broad because it “appear[ed] to sweep in thousands of leasing agreements, forcing broadcasters who never have and never will contract to air foreign government-sponsored content to expend a great deal of time, energy and expense repeatedly (and needlessly) confirming that their program suppliers do not have foreign governmental affiliations.”

NAB, NABOB and MMTC have also argued that the proposed diligence standards would especially harm smaller, diverse broadcasters and potential new entrants.

The petition to stay the order is available here.  

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.