DC Station Must Register As Foreign Agent


That ruling came down Tuesday from U.S. District Court Judge Robin Rosenburg in West Palm Beach after the Department of Justice went after RM Broadcasting in Washington DC. The station was brokering airtime for Sputnik International and the government said that made RM a “publicity agent” and “information-service employee” for Rossiya Segodnya, the Russian Federation government-owned news agency.

WTOP reports that the owner of the station acknowledged selling airtime to Rossiya Segodnya and contends “this commercial transaction in no way created an agency relationship.”

The ruling is all part of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which was originally adopted by Congress in 1938 to combat Nazi propaganda. FARA requires those acting as agents for foreign powers to register with the U.S. government, disclose their relationships, and provide reports on financial activity. The law is now being used to shed a light on foreign governments and entities attempting to influence U.S. policy.

You can read the 11-page ruling here which was posted by The Hollywood Reporter.


  1. I dug a bit deeper into this story. It turns out that RM Broadcasting is NOT the licensee of the radio station on 1390 kHz. This arrangement looks more like a time brokerage scheme. Time brokerage is almost as old as radio broadcasting itself, although it has attracted the attention of the government over the years. During World War II, stations that sold time to time brokers who ran German and Italian language programming, with the brokers selling commercial time to businesses in those ethnic communities, came under the scrutiny of the government, which felt that some of the program hosts were sympathetic to Hitler and Mussolini. But RM Broadcasting is leasing time that it purchased from the station on 1390 kHz to the external broadcasting service of the Russian Federation. Sputnik Radio was known as Radio Moscow during the Cold War, later becoming the Voice of Russia.
    Now is the Department of Justice investigating WILD in Boston for leasing its time to the Chinese government’s external broadcast service? This is apparently not a brokerage scheme. The licensee of the station is allegedly directly dealing with the Chinese government. Or has that arrangement ended?
    In any case, broadcast stations are required to keep copies of time brokerage agreements in the public file.

  2. There is another radio station that could end up in the situation faced by RM Broadcasting: WILD (AM) in Boston. If WILD is still leasing time to China Radio International (thus blasting Chicom propaganda over the Boston area from sunrise to sunset), they could by the Justice Department’s next target. For decades, WILD served Boston’s African-American community until the corporation which bought the station decided to dump the soul/R&B format and lease to the Chicoms.
    Can RM Broadcasting keep its license for 1390 kHz? As a registered foreign agent, is this company eligible to be an FCC licensee? And could the same fate befall WILD?

  3. Bad day for the first amendment. Does this mean that all these cable systems carrying BBC America must register as foreign agents?


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