FCC Rules Requiring Broadcasters To Disclose Foreign-Sponsored Programming Become Effective

Rules Effective Now for New Program Leasing Agreements, Although Appeal is Pending

The FCC has announced the effectiveness of rules that will now require broadcasters to disclose when foreign governments or their representatives lease time on their airwaves for programming, including advertisements.

These rules require on-air disclosure when broadcast programming (aired through a leased airtime agreement) is sponsored by:

  • A foreign government
  • A foreign political party
  • An agent acting on behalf of such entities, or 
  • A US-based foreign media outlet based on definitions drawn from the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 and the Communications Act of 1934.

In announcing the effectiveness of these rules (which were originally adopted last year – see here), FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel stated:

“In light of recent events, this effort—which is all about transparency— has taken on new importance. It is essential that audiences know when a broadcast station has been compensated to air content coming from a foreign government.”

The future of these rules may be impacted by a pending appeal filed by the National Association of Broadcasters and others, but until then, these rules are effective immediately for new leasing agreements, and for existing agreements will need to be implemented within six months from the Federal Register publication date.


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