Reuters: FCC and Justice Department investigate Chinese radio network

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Wow–seems the FCC and Justice Department took notice of Reuters’ CRI investigation reported earlier:

(Source: Reuters via Mike Terry)

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department are investigating a California firm whose U.S. radio broadcasts are backed by a subsidiary of the Chinese government, officials said.

Both investigations come in response to a Reuters report published on Monday that revealed the existence of the covert radio network, which broadcasts in more than a dozen American cities, including Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston and San Francisco. (reut.rs/1Wrflt4)

“Based on reports, the FCC will initiate an inquiry into the facts surrounding the foreign ownership issues raised in the stories, including whether the Commission’s statutory foreign ownership rules have been violated,” FCC spokesman Neil Grace said.

The California firm is owned by James Su, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Shanghai. Reuters reported Monday that Su’s company, G&E Studio Inc, is 60 percent owned by a subsidiary of Chinese state-run radio broadcaster China Radio International (CRI).

The FCC doesn’t restrict content on U.S. radio stations, except for rules covering indecency, political advertising and children’s programming.

But under U.S. law, the FCC prohibits foreign governments or their representatives from holding a radio license for a U.S. broadcast station. Foreign individuals, governments and corporations are permitted to hold up to 20 percent ownership directly in a station and up to 25 percent in the U.S. parent corporation of a station.

G&E does not own any U.S. stations, but it leases two 50,000-watt stations: WCRW in Washington for more than $720,000 a year, and WNWR in Philadelphia for more than $600,000 a year.

Through a different set of limited liability companies, Su owns, co-owns or leases virtually all the air time on at least a dozen other U.S. stations. Those stations carry G&E content, which is produced largely by his West Covina, California studios or by state-run CRI in Beijing….

Read the full article at Reuters…

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3 thoughts on “Reuters: FCC and Justice Department investigate Chinese radio network

  1. Keith Perron

    As I mentioned to Dan Robinson (ex VOA). It’s an interesting story. But it should be mentioned. Just because your on all these stations, it does not mean you have listeners. The reason I say that. When I was the head of the Overseas Local Relay department at CRI, one thing they hated talk about was audience size. I once asked the US rep how many listeners they have in Washington and LA. He said they reach 4 million listeners. My response to him was. “how many listeners is that” he quickly changed the subject.
    These FM and AM overseas relays are in reality use more for internal propaganda. When government officials visit CRI, which they seem to do every week. CRI’s directors always say we now have programs in Washington, London, Sydney or wherever. And it impresses the officials. But they never ask how many listeners does it bring in.
    Back in 2005 a few months before I left CRI I contacted Nielsen Company to find out how many listeners CRI has a week in the US on these FM and AM relays. After 2 months they got back to me. The report, which I still have put the figure at less than 3000 listeners a week in 3 US markets. At WCRW it showed between 100 and 200 an hour, with an average listening tim of 10 to 15 minutes.

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  2. Robert AK3Q

    Great information, Thomas. Interestingly enough, if I have read some of the proposed rule changes for AM stations (and might apply to FM as well), the FCC is considering changing the foreign ownership policy. This might make them re-think that change . . . such a change would, as I recall, make this network of stations legal. 73, Robert

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