FCC's Foreign Sponsorship Identification Rules to Take Effect

The FCC has denied a request to stay the effectiveness of the FCC’s new foreign sponsorship identification rules, clearing the way for the rules to take effect even as the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and other groups challenge the rules in court.

As we described in our April 30, 2021 client memo, the new rules require broadcast radio and television stations to disclose when foreign governmental entities pay a station to broadcast programming under a local marketing agreement (LMA), block programming agreement, or similar arrangement. Broadcasters are also required to take several specific steps to investigate whether an entity that leases airtime falls within the scope of the new rules and should be identified with scripted on-air announcements as a foreign governmental sponsor of programming.

NAB, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) asked the FCC to delay implementation of the rules while the DC Circuit Court of Appeals considers the challenge the groups filed. The groups believe the requirements are overly burdensome for broadcasters, particularly smaller broadcasters and those owned by women and people of color, and that the FCC lacks authority to require broadcasters to investigate program sponsors.

The new foreign sponsorship ID rules will now take effect after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) finishes its review. Last week, NAB, MMTC, and NABOB filed their brief with the DC Circuit. We will advise clients when the rules become effective.

Categories: Broadcast and Media