Legal Battle Continues Over Foreign Sponsorship ID Rules

Posted on April 27th, 2022 by

The April 12, 2022 oral argument in the DC Circuit case by broadcasters challenging the constitutionality of the FCC’s new foreign sponsorship identification rules revealed few clues about the potential outcome or the timing of a decision in the case.  Broadcasters are arguing that the scope of the requirements is overly broad and burdens their First Amendment rights.  Recent world events, including Russian actions in Ukraine, add an interesting backdrop that could make it more difficult to throw out or narrow the new rules.

Despite the litigation, the FCC announced in March 2022 that the new rules became effective.  For any entity purchasing a block of programming, stations need to take reasonable diligence actions to find out – from the programmer and independently via U.S. databases – whether the program sponsor qualifies as a “foreign governmental entity” and if so, to make certain on air and public file disclosures.  Records of those diligence efforts must be maintained.  For any programming agreements that were in place on a station as of March 15, 2022, the station has until September 15, 2022 to perform diligence.  Any new programming agreements must comply with the new rule.

If you have questions about compliance, or would like a certification form that you can send to programmers, please contact us.