Rep. Eshoo & Senators Schatz and Blackburn Introduce Legislation to Combat Foreign Propaganda on Airwaves

October 17, 2022
Press Release

PALO ALTO, CA – Today Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) introduced the Identifying Propaganda on Our Airwaves Act, legislation to ensure broadcasters accurately disclose the identity of foreign sponsors on airwaves and enable Americans to make informed decisions about the media they consume. U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“In July, the D.C. Circuit struck down a portion of the FCC rule that required clearer foreign sponsorship disclosures for radio broadcasters, claiming that the FCC did not have such authority. This was a disastrous decision. The rule required that broadcasters simply check two federal sources to verify an ad sponsor’s identity, a rule implemented at my urging. The American people deserve to know when radio programming they hear on public airwaves is foreign government-funded propaganda,” said Rep. Eshoo. “Our legislation unambiguously grants the FCC the authority to require broadcasters to conduct reasonable diligence to identify foreign agents and their shell companies so Americans will know who is funding the information on our public airwaves.”

“Foreign governments shouldn’t be able to hide behind shell companies to fund misinformation and propaganda on American airwaves,” said Senator Schatz. “By giving the FCC the authority to require disclosure of this foreign propaganda, our bipartisan bill will help stop this practice and improve programming transparency on TV and the radio.”

“Americans deserve the right to make informed decisions about the media they consume," said Senator Blackburn. "Under current regulations, the New Axis of Evil can use shell companies to broadcast regime-funded propaganda across American airwaves. This legislation will protect consumer transparency by requiring the disclosure of foreign government-sponsored content.”

The legislation grants the FCC the authority to require broadcasters to check sources that actually identify foreign agents and their shell companies when entering into and renewing airtime lease agreements for sponsored programming on the radio. 

“The principle that the public has a right to know the identity of those who solicit their support is a fundamental and long-standing tenet of broadcasting,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Consumers deserve to trust that public airwaves aren’t being leased without their knowledge to foreign governments. I appreciate the leadership of Senators Schatz and Blackburn, and Representative Eshoo for their efforts to increase transparency and ensure consumers know who is behind the information transmitted over public airwaves.”

“The fact that foreign governmental entities are covertly broadcasting on our television and radio stations is alarming.  The American people have a right to know the identity of those using the public airwaves in order to be informed and make their own decisions in separating truth from disinformation. I thank Senators Schatz and Blackburn, and Representatives Eshoo for their leadership in ensuring that broadcasters do their due diligence to disclose the true source of foreign state-sponsored programming. The Communications Act – and fundamental notions of transparency – require no less,” said FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks.

The final bill text can be found here.