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U.S. Court of Appeals Overturns Recent FCC Foreign Sponsorship ID Rules

FCC seal
(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The NAB has issued a statement applauding the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's decision to vacate the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent foreign sponsorship identification (opens in new tab) rules that went into effect in March of 2022. 

Worried about the influence of Russian, Chinese and foreign government disinformation on recent U.S. elections, the FCC had implemented new rules imposing additional requirements on how stations investigate the sources of their programming and determine whether the programming was sponsored by foreign governments. 

In the July 12 ruling, which is available here (opens in new tab), the Count accepted the NAB’s argument that federal law only authorizes the Commission to require stations to obtain sponsorship identification information from their own employees and from program sponsors and that stations should not be required to investigate additional sources. 

"We hold that the FCC cannot require radio broadcasters to check Federal sources to verify sponsors’ identities,” the Court ruled. “We therefore vacate that aspect of the challenged order.”

The decision would not remove the requirement that stations tell viewers when they are airing foreign government-sponsored programming. 

“NAB appreciates the court’s careful review of the important issues in this case,” said NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt. “Today’s decision ensures that the rules rightly continue requiring the handful of stations airing foreign government-sponsored programming to identify it as such, but removes the burden on the overwhelming majority of stations that never air foreign government-sponsored content.”

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.