A Florida-based broadcasting company filed suit last year against the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), claiming it should not be required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”). The company, RM Broadcasting, broadcasts the radio channel Sputnik, whose parent company, Rossiya Segodnya, is owned and operated by the Russian government. Sputnik registered as a foreign agent under FARA in 2017. RM Broadcasting has a deal with a D.C.-area radio station to broadcast Sputnik twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
In June 2018, DOJ advised RM Broadcasting that it was required to register under FARA as a foreign agent by virtue of its services for Rossiya Segodnya. RM Broadcasting filed suit, seeking declaratory judgment that it is not required to register under FARA. In its complaint filed in October 2018, RM Broadcasting denied being an agent of Rossiya Segodnya, maintaining that it doesn't have "any kind of joint venture relationship whatsoever" with Russian interests and that "this commercial transaction in no way created an agency relationship" with Rossiya Segodnya. DOJ, in turn, filed a counterclaim for injunctive relief to require RM Broadcasting to register, laying out its case that Rossiya Segodnya “has complete control over the content” of RM Broadcasting’s station through its contract and is working “to advance Russian interests” in the U.S. According to DOJ, Rossiya Segodnya uses Sputnik to disseminate information to U.S. audiences about Russia and to advance Russian interests.
On March 15, RM Broadcasting submitted a motion for judgment on the pleadings, maintaining that DOJ’s “singular justification for requiring RM Broadcasting’s registration is a written contract” between the company and Rossiya Segodnya, which is on its face insufficient to establish a principal-agent relationship, thus RM Broadcasting was not the agent of a foreign principal.
DOJ responded on March 29 with a cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings, accusing RM Broadcasting of mischaracterizing facts by casting itself as “an independent broker buying and selling radio airtime” when in fact its “operations consist of broadcasting content completely controlled by Rossiya Segodnya.” DOJ also maintained that the term “agent of a foreign principal” under FARA is not synonymous with a common-law agency relationship
Neither motion has been ruled upon yet.
DOJ has recently cracked down on the U.S. affiliates of state-run media companies, requiring several Chinese and Russian media companies to register as foreign agents. FARA.us will continue to monitor this case as it develops.
An Informational Resource in a New Era of Foreign Agents Registration Act Enforcement.
Recent Blog Posts
- U.S Attorney Announces Charges Against Co-Director of Maryland Think Tank for Acting as an Unregistered Foreign Agent
- DOJ Sends Letter to Congress in Support of Proposed FARA Legislation, Repeal of LDA Exemption
- Trump Ally Acquitted of Violating FARA
- Federal Court Grants Casino Mogul Steve Wynn Dismissal of DOJ FARA Suit
- DOJ Sues Casino Mogul Steve Wynn to Compel FARA Registration
- Former US Ambassador to Plead Guilty to Violating Post-Employment Ethics Law in Qatar Representation
- Chinese National Charged with Acting as an Illegal Agent of the Chinese Government in the United States
- House Judiciary Committee Holds First FARA Hearing In 30 Years
- Dual Russia-U.S. Citizen Charged With FARA Violations, Remains At-Large
- DOJ Unseals Indictment Charging U.S. Resident With Acting As An Agent Of Egypt Government
- July 2023
- December 2022
- November 2022
- October 2022
- May 2022
- April 2022
- March 2022
- January 2022
- December 2021
- October 2021
- July 2021
- March 2021
- February 2021
- December 2020
- November 2020
- September 2020
- June 2020
- May 2020
- February 2020
- October 2019
- September 2019
- August 2019
- July 2019
- June 2019
- May 2019
- April 2019
- March 2019
- February 2019
- January 2019