TV Company Linked To Russia’s RT America Registers As Foreign Agent In U.S.
Enlarge this impression toggle caption Mikhail Klimentyev/AP Mikhail Klimentyev/AP
Bowing to pressure right from the U.S. Justice Department, the production organization behind media store RT America registered as a overseas agent on Monday. Russian leaders happen to be criticizing the move, and lawmakers in Moscow happen to be preparing a “symmetric legislative response,” based on the state-operate Tass news agency.
In the submitting, RT America’s partner company said it wasn’t sure how much of its funding originates from Russia. The media operation had faced a Nov. 13 deadline, establish by the U.S. authorities, to register.
“Between legal actions and registration [as a foreign agent], we’ve chosen the latter,” RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said in a Twitter post that was translated from Russian by RT in its story about the registration. In her tweet, Simonyan added that she “congratulates the united states [on its] freedom of speech and those who still have confidence in it.”
After the filing was built on Monday, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, visited RT America’s office buildings in Washington, D.C.
“We never have our people down,” he said, according to Tass.
As the deadline approached, Russian lawmakers pledged to move new restrictions on U.S. media in retaliation for the American move. And on Tuesday, The Moscow Occasions tweeted, “It’s happening: Point out Duma drafts amendments to existing laws on foreign media, ‘unwanted organizations.’ ”
The Justice Department officially announced the registration of T&R Productions – naming RT parent ANO TV-Novosti as the foreign principal – on Monday. Performing Assistant Attorney Basic for National Security Dana J. Boente said in a statement, “Americans have a right to know who is acting in america to affect the U.S. authorities or public on behalf of foreign principals.”
The U.S. company says that since August 2014, T&R Productions “has operated studios for RT, employed and paid all U.S.-centered RT employees, and produced English-language programming for RT.”
The registration beneath the Foreign Agents Registration Act carries a number of production contracts between T&R and it network, promising the creation of shows such as for example Off the Grid, Boom Bust and Watching the Hawks.
The paperwork acknowledges that RT America’s parent company is financed by a foreign government, political party or other principal. But the company declined to provide details, saying just that it understands “the Russian Federation funds ANO TV-Novosti to a substantial extent.”
To the next question – which seeks a complete explanation for those foreign ties – the response stated, “Registrant isn’t sufficiently aware of who supervises, owns, directs, controls or subsidizes ANO TV-Novosti to answer the foregoing questions.”
That information stands in stark contrast with other filings – take, for instance, the report on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, or CBC, as a foreign principal back in 1997. For the reason that filing, the company said, “Around 75 percent of the CBC’s funds come from the Canadian authorities through a Parliamentary appropriation,” with the majority of the remaining funds coming from advertising.
The CBC filing was built after the broadcaster retained a U.S. lawyer to represent its interests when the U.S. government was weighing Tv set and copyright licensing rules.
As for this content on RT America (formerly known as Russia Today), the FARA filing claims, the “registrant features editorial control over these programs, and on-air skill is given reasonable creative discretion.”
To the question of whether political activities are involved, the company replied “no,” adding that the channel’s programs “were created merely to inform, not influence” and aren’t meant “to primarily benefit any foreign authorities or political party.”
Beyond the state Russian response, the Justice Department’s approach to RT America has been criticized by those who worry that it could set off retaliatory actions – and become seen as a high-profile precedent.
“Compelling RT to join up under FARA is a bad idea. This is a change in how the regulation has been applied in recent decades, so we’ve little information about how exactly its reporting requirements might have an effect on individual journalists,” said Alexandra Ellerbeck of the THE UNITED STATES branch of the Committee to safeguard Journalists. “We’re uncomfortable with governments choosing what constitutes journalism or propaganda.”
The Justice Department says that requiring a media outlet to join up with FARA “will not inhibit freedom of expression, will not restrict this content of information disseminated, will not restrict an agent’s lobbying or publication of information or advocacy and applies neutrally to all foreign countries.”
As NPR’s David Folkenflik reported at the end of this past year: “RT America includes a modest viewers, exploring tales of dissent, injustice and poverty within the U.S. that it says American information outlets ignore. Past MSNBC host Ed Schultz became a member of the network back in January.”
David added, “Many American analysts call RT’s job outright propaganda for a region now accused of trying to tamper with the 2016 presidential elections.”
More than 400 corporations or other entities are currently registered with the Justice Department beneath the Foreign Agents Registration Act, either just as a primary registrant or just as a overseas principal. They range from the Aruba Tourism Authority to China’s Xinmin Evening Reports.
Not all registrants appear to agree with the classification procedure: In its filing, Japanese broadcaster NHK, which provides programming for the cable channel TV Japan, says, “We don’t think that the distribution of such TV programs to our subscribers is political activity.”
Other registrants include the Chinese media outlets China Daily – which was first listed in 1983 – and the People’s Daily.
Since FARA’s inception around the time of World War II, a lot more than 6,000 entities have registered, according to online data.