Federal court rules FCC failed to ‘identify statutory authority’ for new requirements

by Jacob Fuller


A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday struck down a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirement that broadcasters check federal sources to verify sponsors’ identities.

The court ruled that the FCC does not have the legal authority to impose an additional two-step verification process it created in 2021 with new rules, stating, “An agency must identify statutory authority for any action it takes…Here, the FCC has not done so. Rather, it has decreed a duty that the statute does not require and that the statute does not empower the FCC to impose.”

The court noted the FCC has raised concerns “that the Chinese and Russian governments have been secretly leasing air time to broadcast propaganda on American radio.” The FCC rules finalized in April 2021 required additional verification on the part of broadcasters in order to identify and disclose foreign-government sponsorship at the time of a broadcast if a foreign governmental entity paid a radio or television station, directly or indirectly, to air material.

Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters. Additions and edits by Jacob Fuller, FISM News.