DC-Area Radio Station Registers As Foreign Agent of Russians

July 8, 2019 by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON – The Russian government paid a middleman company more than $1.4 million to broadcast propaganda for the past two years on Washington, D.C., area radio station WZHF 1390, according to recently-released foreign agent registration records.

The registration by Florida-based RM Broadcasting LLC was ordered by a federal judge in May after a civil enforcement action filed by the Justice Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement, “Our concern is not the content of the speech but providing transparency about the true identity of the speaker.” 

U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg ruled RM Broadcasting must register with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act because of its contract with Rossiya Segodnya, a Russian government media organization. The organization operates internationally as Sputnik International.

A 2017 U.S. intelligence report says Sputnik International was created by Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of “Russia’s state-run propaganda machine.”

The FBI accused Sputnik International of using propaganda on social media to help the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

More recently, Sputnik International hired RM Broadcasting to purchase airtime on WZHF 1390 to broadcast what the U.S. government called Russian propaganda. Previously, the station played bluegrass music.

However, from November 2017 to last month, WZHF broadcast Sputnik International programming 24 hours per day. The contract with RM Broadcasting is scheduled to continue until the end of 2020. It would give the company six-figure advance payments and $55,000 a month to cover expenses.

The contract also forbids RM Broadcasting from altering Rossiya Segodnya’s programming, which the Justice Department says makes the American company a publicity agent of the Russian company.

The arrangement is described in RM Broadcasting’s foreign registration, which says the company “does not promote, create, edit, control, operate, or have any decision-making authority whatsoever in the content of the radio programming.”

After the Justice Department ordered RM Broadcasting to register as a foreign agent, the company responded by filing a lawsuit in federal court in Florida seeking a declaratory judgment that it should be exempt. The company argued that it was a media organization exercising its right to free speech, which was not the same as being a foreign agent.

The Justice Department filed a counterclaim seeking a court order for RM Broadcasting to register.

The court’s judgment agreed with the Justice Department.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act is a 1938 federal law that requires agents representing the interests of foreign countries in a “political or quasi-political capacity” disclose their relationship with the foreign governments. They also must report their activities and finances.

The judgment in the RM Broadcasting case was the Justice Department’s first successful civil prosecution under the Foreign Agents Registration Act since 1991.

In The News

Health

Voting

In The News

Push for Minimum Wage Hike Persists
Congress
Push for Minimum Wage Hike Persists
March 3, 2021
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough quashed Democrats’ plans to add a $15 per hour federal minimum wage increase to President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, but some members are not giving up. Democrats are planning to pass the bill by using the reconciliation process... Read More

Rosen To Lead Women’s Senate Network For 2022 Cycle
Political News
Rosen To Lead Women’s Senate Network For 2022 Cycle
March 3, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - Nevada Sen. Jacky Rosen has been selected to chair the Women's Senate Network for the 2022 cycle, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced Wednesday. Rosen, a computer programmer until she was elected to represent Nevada's 3rd congressional district in 2017, was elected to the... Read More

Library of Congress Acquires Rodney King Courtroom Sketches
Library of Congress
Library of Congress Acquires Rodney King Courtroom Sketches
March 3, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - Thirty years ago today, on March 3, 1991, a Los Angeles motorist named Rodney King was severely beaten by four White police officers wielding metal batons, an event that would ultimately seal his place in recent civil rights history.  This morning, the Library of Congress announced... Read More

‘Zero Trust’ Approach to AI Will Continue
Telecom
‘Zero Trust’ Approach to AI Will Continue
March 3, 2021
by Victoria Turner

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration will continue its “zero trust” approach, which assumes any hardware or software technology cannot be trusted, when it comes to grappling with issues surrounding artificial intelligence, according to the agency’s top official today.  “AI is not the future … it’s... Read More

Airlines Say They Will Fail Without More Federal Aid
Travel
Airlines Say They Will Fail Without More Federal Aid
March 3, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- Airline industry officials made a plea Tuesday for additional federal assistance to help their deeply wounded businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. They asked a congressional committee for another round of Payroll Support Program funds, not only to keep their workers employed, but in... Read More

Biden's Cabinet Half-Empty After Slow Start in Confirmations
White House
Biden's Cabinet Half-Empty After Slow Start in Confirmations

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's Cabinet is taking shape at the slowest pace of any in modern history, with just over a dozen nominees for top posts confirmed more than a month into his tenure. Among Biden's 23 nominees with Cabinet rank, just 13 have... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top