Court Overturns Key Part of FCC's Foreign Sponsorship Identification Rules

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down the FCC’s recently-enacted requirement that broadcasters check federal sources to verify that buyers of airtime are not foreign government entities or agents. The requirement stemmed from a series of new foreign sponsorship identification rules the FCC put into effect on March 15, 2022. The rules required broadcast licensees to take specific actions in exercising reasonable diligence to determine if an entity leasing airtime is a foreign government or an agent of a foreign government. One such requirement was to confirm a lessee’s status as a non-foreign governmental entity by consulting the Department of Justice’s FARA website and the FCC’s semi-annual U.S.-based foreign media outlet reports. The Court struck down that portion of the rules, holding that the FCC had overstepped its authority by requiring broadcasters to verify a lessee’s status. Other parts of the foreign sponsorship identification rules remain in place. You can see our discussion of those requirements here.

For more information about the foreign sponsorship identification rules or the effect of the Court’s decision, please contact an attorney in our Media practice group.

Categories: Media