Bill Would Mandate FCC IDs of Foreign-Backed Communications Companies

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Architect of the Capitol)

Republican Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York and Mike Gallagher (Wis.) have introduced a bill, the Foreign Adversary Communications Transparency (FACT) Act, that would require the FCC to maintain a list of all licensees with "sufficient" ties to authoritarian regimes, including the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The FCC has tried to boost broadcast disclosures of foreign-backed programming, but a court has said it did not have the authority to do so in the way it had wanted to, so it is taking another crack at it.

The commission, both under the direction of Congress and on its own initiative, has precluded potentially suspect network tech from companies tied to the Chinese government from being used in subsidized network buildouts and reportedly is considering a ban on any new devices from the companies.

Stefanik's bill would require the FCC to publish a list of companies with "licenses, authorizations or other grants of authority" with more than a 10% ownership interest from "foreign adversarial governments," which Stefanik says would include "China, Russia, Iran and North Korea."

She says that companies "owned" by those countries should not have access to U.S. critical infrastructure.

Also: Huawei Says FCC Ban Could Be Unconstitutional

Gallagher says that while Huawei and ZTE have been excluded from networks due to their suspect tech, many other companies under the direction of the Chinese Communist Party are still licensed to operate in the U.S.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr applauded the bill, a shout-out that was included in the reps.' announcement of the new bill.

"It is vital that we provide a full and transparent accounting of every entity with ties back into the CCP—and the governments of other authoritarian regimes—that are operating inside America’s tech and telecom markets, yet there has never been a public disclosure when it comes to those networks of relationships," said Carr. "This only makes it more difficult for the public and private sector alike to assess the likelihood that those connections can be leveraged to harm America’s national security interests....Publishing a list of all entities with FCC authorizations that have covered relationships with authoritarian regimes would aid the FCC in carrying out its mission of advancing America’s national security interest." ■

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.