FCC Foreign Government-Sponsored Programming Rule Update and Important September 15 Compliance Deadline

September 7, 2022

On September 6, 2022, the D.C. Circuit issued its mandate in NAB v. FCC, causing the vacatur of the requirement that broadcasters independently verify whether parties leasing time on their stations are “foreign governmental entities” by searching two federal databases to become formally effective. Thus, broadcasters are no longer obligated to undertake their own research to verify the status of lessees.

The other requirements under the foreign government-sponsored programming rule remain in effect and are summarized in greater detail here.

In brief, broadcasters still must take the following steps whenever they lease airtime to a third party:

  • Tell the third party about the FCC’s foreign government-sponsored programming rule;
  • Ask the third party whether it is a foreign governmental entity or an agent of one;
  • Ask the third party whether anyone further back in the production or distribution chain is a foreign governmental entity or an agent of one;
  • Document those inquiries and investigations.

The rule has been effective since March 15, 2022 as to leases entered into or renewed on or after that date. By September 15, 2022, broadcasters must comply with respect to arrangements that existed prior to March 15, 2022.

If you have any question about the D.C. Circuit’s opinion or the FCC’s foreign government-sponsored programming rule, please contact one of the authors of this alert or the attorney who regularly handles your station matters.

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