NAB calls on US AM/FM stations to cease Russian programming

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Zack Schindler, who shares the following stories all focused on US broadcasters receiving pressure from the NAB and their communities to halt broadcasts of Russian state-sponsored media like Russia Today and Sputnik:

NAB Calls On Broadcasters To Cease Russian Programming (Radio and Television Business Report)

It says it is a “fierce defender” of the First Amendment and “the critical importance of the ability to freely express views, both popular and unpopular.”

That said, the NAB explains that the First Amendment “does not prevent private actors from exercising sound, moral judgment.”

That’s why the chief advocacy group for broadcast radio and TV wants any state-sponsored programming with ties to Moscow pulled from U.S. airwaves now.

What will operators in Kansas City and Washington, D.C., do? RBR+TVBR heard from one of them, and he’s livid with the NAB. Another has placed the association among those responsible for “Cancel Culture” in the U.S.

In response to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, NAB President/CEO Curtis LeGeyt seemingly took aim at Sputnik, the English-language service of the Voice of Russia.

Sputnik has already noticed, and reacted. On Tuesday, it noted that “Western governments” and internet giants including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter “have moved to heavily censor Russian foreign-language media outlets over the conflict in Ukraine, blocking websites, shutting down social media pages, and taking radio and television broadcasts off air.”

Calling the “censorship” unacceptable, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Gavrilov said in a meeting of the Russian Federation Council that, “separately, attention should be paid to the absolutely unacceptable behaviour of foreign, especially American, IT giants such as Google and Meta. Hostile propaganda activities are openly conducted on their social platforms, while Russian sources of information are blocked, and massive restrictions on access to domestic media are put in place.”

[…]“[G]iven the unprovoked aggression exhibited by Russia against the free and sovereign people of Ukraine, NAB calls on broadcasters to cease carrying any state-sponsored programming with ties to the Russian government or its agents,” LeGeyt said. “While we know that airings of such programs are extremely limited, we believe that our nation must stand fully united against misinformation and for freedom and democracy across the globe.”

Programs aren’t extremely limited to those in the Nation’s Capital, where Radio Sputnik airs on W288BS, at 105.5 MHz, and originating station WZHF-AM 1390, a directional two-pattern Class B facility first known as Top 40 WEAM. Both WZHF and the FM translator reaches much of greater Washington. [Continue reading…]

Why are Kansas City’s airwaves filled with pro-Putin ‘Radio Sputnik’ propaganda? (Kansas City Star Editorial Board)

“You’re listening to Radio Sputnik,’‘ the polished, made-for-radio voice says, accompanied by triumphant Russian-themed music. “Telling the untold.”

“Live from the divided states of America,” announces the host of “Fault Lines Radio” show. Produced in Washington, D.C., the program airs locally on AM radio station KCXL. Yes, we’re talking about a radio station spouting Russian propaganda from the heartland — just outside Kansas City. And why, you might ask, are Russian talking points airing on area radio stations?

Money talks. Or maybe we should say rubles.

Radio Sputnik, a media service funded by the Kremlin, airs daily on three stations in Kansas City. Alpine Broadcasting Corp. owner Peter Schartel is paid by Russian interests to broadcast pro-Vladimir Putin programming on them all.

And this week, with Russian tanks, artillery and troops continuing the tragic and reckless invasion of neighboring Ukraine, the Russian apologists spun hard. Schartel remained defiant even after multiple reports Thursday that the American branch of RT, the Russian-funded media network, was shutting down and laying off its staff. He said his contract was with an American company that works with the Russian authorities behind Sputnik. That company “has not notified us of any interruption,” he said.

For now, at least, the show goes on, and we sampled its absurd pro-Russian arguments so you wouldn’t have to.

Guests on the “Fault Lines Radio” show this week, encouraged by hosts Jamarl Thomas and Faran Fronczak, would have you believe Putin was an unwilling participant in this conflict. The Western media, one guest said, is complicit in spreading Ukrainian government war propaganda, and added that the besieged Ukrainian government is winning the information war on social media.

“If you were reading that, you might think there has been a billion Russian troops killed and that Ukrainian freedom fighters are storming Moscow,” said Mark Sleboda, Putin’s Moscow-based mouthpiece and frequent contributor to pro-Russian media companies.

Thomas predictably agreed, and the Putin praise continued.

KCXL has no ties to Russia and is against the country’s conflict with Ukraine, Schartel told us Wednesday. But he needs the money, and he’d lose his business if he pulled the plug on Radio Sputnik. So, that’s how you end up with a radio show here in the land of barbecue and jazz playing Cold War oldies and coddling a powerful, seemingly deranged dictator.

Putin ordered the invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The unprovoked and inhumane attack has caused thousands of deaths of both civilians and soldiers in Ukraine. Parts of the country are being reduced to rubble.

Outside of Moscow, the Russian invasion has been almost universally condemned. Except for right here in the Kansas City area, where listeners of KCXL were bombarded with pro-Putin talk. [Read the full article here…]

National Association of Broadcasters call to stop airing Russian radio, pressures Liberty radio station (KMBC)

LIBERTY, Mo. —Down a rural road just a mile away from Liberty’s city square, a radio station inside small brick building displays an American flag in the front window.

For six hours every weekday, 1140AM KCXL broadcasts radio programming paid for by the Russian government, called Radio Sputnik.

The National Association of Broadcasters earlier this week called for U.S. broadcasters to cease Russian-sponsored programming considering the war in Ukraine.

[…]Alpine Broadcasting Programming and sales manager Jonne Santoli-Schartel told KMBC on Thursday she and her husband, Peter Schartel, have no plans to pull Radio Sputnik from the station’s airwaves.

“If we can’t express our viewpoints anymore, and we have cancel culture, and people deleting and people putting pressure on other people to not hear certain programming, then we’re in trouble and freedom no longer exists,” Santoli-Schartel said.

Those living nearby disagreed.

“If the money means more than your morals, then you’ve got a problem,” said Debbie Bowman, who has family members from Ukraine.

Last year, government documents showed Alpine Broadcasting made at least $60,000 from RM Broadcasting, led by Florida businessman Arnold Ferolito. RM Broadcasting acts as a go between for two U.S. radio stations including KCXL, and Rossiya Segodnya, a media organization sponsored by the Russian government.

A judge in 2019 ordered RM Broadcasting to register as a foreign agent under the U.S. Foreign Registration Act.

That act makes sure people engaged in domestic political or advocacy work on behalf of foreign interests disclose financial information along with relationships.

[…]Santoli-Shartel also said she does not agree with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, however, she has no plans to stop broadcasting.

“My heart is breaking for these moms and these dads on both sides,” she said. “I think if I was in Russia, I would want to get out of Russia because I think they’re in danger also. But the people of Ukraine, I think it is so horrible.”

To see RM Broadcasting’s latest filing under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, click here. [Read full article and view video here…]

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10 thoughts on “NAB calls on US AM/FM stations to cease Russian programming

  1. Harold

    We always look for simple labels to describe complex and dynamic situations. “Cancel culture” in my opinion is one such label. It’s used to dismiss critical thinking about what’s really going on.

    I’m guessing most of you are too young to relate to this but here goes.

    I was born in 1940 and my father was in the army during WWII. Although my “coming of age” was a decade later, dad reminded us of the nastiness of Nazi propaganda. How its hosts sounded so warm, relatable, and embracing, but was all designed to rewire our brains. I think this is why dad taught us to be critical thinkers. He didn’t want anyone to get in our heads.

    I look around now and I see a country void of critical thinking. We’ve become lazy and subscribe to versions of what we want to be the truth (sometimes knowing it’s not). The people on the telly or radio tell us what to think and we don’t question it by checking other sources. It saddens me. I don’t engage in social media, but I see the effect it has on everyone. Dividing us. Fear of the other and promoting anger is profitable.

    The question you have to ask yourself if you’re labeling this as “Cancel Culture” is:

    During WWII would you have supported Nazi stations directly broadcasting to communities in the USA? The Nazis were demonizing our Jewish communities, downplaying the war and their atrocities, and making up lies about the US and allied governments.

    Would you seriously have supported that?

    Though it might be hard to believe (because WWII is now generations in memory) this is what Russia is doing today. They’re feeding listeners and viewers with a false narrative. It’s sugar-coated poison just like what the Nazis did to everyone especially their own citizens.

    No. I support the NAB to ask these stations to Patriot up and turn off Putin’s mouthpiece. Don’t let him buy his way into undermining democracy. His whole game is to disrupt other countries in order to strengthen Russia’s stance.

    But what do I know? I’m just an old guy who still listens to shortwave.

    Reply
  2. Jake Brodsky, AB3A

    There are two issues here: First, should Russia be allowed to pay for air-time on a US radio station? I think the answer is yes. The Second issue is more practical: CAN Russia afford to pay for the airtime of their programs? THAT is really what keeps them on the air.

    Given the state of their economy of late, this problem may solve itself. We don’t need cancel culture. But radio stations exist to make money for their owners. If I were most of those radio station owners, I’d demand payment up front.

    Reply
    1. Tomas

      You forgot to explain how Russia murdering civilians to stop Ukrainian TV and radio broastcasts fit into your “cancel culture” narrative…

      So we should allow them to broadcast hate and propaganda in the US and other western countries after they commited the above atrocities and war crimes? NO! To allow it would be extremely weak and lame and, as Harold above described it, would be the exact equaivalent of allowing Hitler to broadcast propaganda against jews in the US after Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939.

      And to talk about “free speech”? Please. In Russia you will now risk 15 years in prison just for calling the war a war and at the same time they claim the west doesn’t have free speech… Right.

      Free speech NEVER ment that you have the right to force someone to publish your speech, text or video. It means that you can publish it yourself and you will not go to prison for the content. It doesn’t mean and never ment that a newspaper, TV- or radio station must publish your content if they don’t want to. So free speech means that Russia can transmit their content from Russia (or as it now happens, from an occupied part of Moldova…).

      Reply
  3. Tim Brockett

    All of the Amendments to the US Constitution protect the rights of people under the legal jurisdiction of the United States. Where did rights like Free Speech come from? The founders thought they came from what Jefferson called our “creator”. In the time of Kings, rights came from government and the power of a King came from the creator or God. Jefferson turned that idea on its head when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.

    When everyone and anyone is allowed to say whatever they want, then the burden of proof falls upon the individual. It is up to the individual to discern where the truth lies.

    Speaking your mind also has consequences. You can be fired from your job, socially ostracized, and publically criticized. If private stations want to cancel Russian propaganda they are free to do so. Listeners are also free to tune in other stations.

    I think the public interest is best served when propaganda is exposed by counter-arguments that highlight the other viewpoint. Then the individual can draw their own conclusions. It is like voting; you get to make a choice based on multiple candidates. That has proven to be much better than having one candidate only on the ticket.

    The beauty of 1970s shortwave was that we were able to listen to communist tyrants and stations from capitalist democracys. I was reassured of my place in the world as an American whenever I tuned into the communist stations.

    Reply
  4. John Drake

    Yes, we’re going to show our love of free speech by censoring opinions we don’t like. 😐

    German and Japanese radio broadcasts to Britain and the U.S. were not blocked during the Second World War.

    Reply
    1. Tomas

      You’re comparing apples to oranges. No one is blocking radio transmissions from Russia, just that it shouldn’t be allowed to retransmit Putins pro-war propaganda in civilized countries.

      Did US radio stations retransmit six hours of propaganda daily from Nazi Germany during WW2? Certanily not.

      Russia bombed a TV tower killing five people to stop Ukrainan transmissions, why should they be allowed to transmit anything locally in the US or Europe? No thanks. They also seem to have destroyed or disabled the most powerful Ukrainian mediumwave transmitter since I can no longer hear it since a few days.

      RT and Sputnik should certainly be banned outside Russia.

      Reply
      1. Walt

        Yes, absolutely, Tomas. Today, I’m only able to hear Ukrainian radio on 873 kHz via a SDR in Hungary. Time to dump RT/Sputnik permanently!

        Reply
    2. Ron F

      > “German and Japanese radio broadcasts to Britain and the U.S. were not blocked during the Second World War.”

      No, but … well

      – The NYT was publishing Nazi Germany’s shortwave schedules weekly up until at least Jan 1942;

      – Father Charles Coughlin was a notorious anti-semite and Nazi supporter throughout the 30’s whose radio programme & magazine was shut down by the US government in 1942;

      – The Friends of New Germany / German American Bund was a pro-Nazi organisation established with express permission of Hess and the assistance of Nazi Germany’s US consul that grew to 10’s of thousands of members before it was targetted, crippled, and eventually closed by US government pressure just before the US belatedly entered WWII.

      The US government may have been reluctant to block radio / TV broadcasts – but they certainly have a history of producing the same effect by other means, and the history of both the USA’s initial admiration of Fascism & early public tolerance of Nazism has been whitewashed away.

      (Most amusing/horrifying to me is how closely some of the German American Bund’s propaganda was mirrored by certain more recent propaganda. “Mass demonstrations for True Americanism” anyone?)

      Reply
  5. Tom G.

    I am utterly opposed to Putin’s aggression’s. But I’m also very much opposed to the rampant cancel culture that’s poisoning the planet.

    Reply
    1. Tomas

      To not actively redistribute Russian propaganda in the west after they killed numerous civilians taking out Ukrainian TV and radio stations isn’t “cancel culture”.

      Reply

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