The National Association of Broadcasters, the trade group that represents the broadcast TV and radio industries, wants U.S. broadcasters to stop airing Russian propaganda.
In a statement Tuesday, the NAB called on broadcasters “to cease carrying any state-sponsored programming with ties to the Russian government or its agents.” The statement is somewhat surprising, given the NAB’s long-standing and vocal support of freedom of speech and the First Amendment, but the organization says that Russia’s invasion caused it to speak out.
“The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is a fierce defender of the First Amendment and the critical importance of the ability to freely express views, both popular and unpopular. While the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, however, it does not prevent private actors from exercising sound, moral judgment,” NAB CEO Curtis LeGeyt said in the statement. “To that end, given 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. 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.”
As the NAB notes, there is limited programming with ties to Russia available over U.S. public airwaves. According to a 2021 report from the FCC, Radio Sputnik airs programming on radio stations in Washington, D.C., and Kansas City, Missouri. And until March 2020, a for-profit broadcaster in Virginia also aired some programming backed by Russia.
Russia’s invasion has sparked global backlash, with U.S. entertainment companies like Disney and Warner Bros. pulling theatrical releases from the country, and Russian business mostly barred from participating in international media markets.
While Russia has limited exposure on U.S. broadcasters, its RT cable channel is still distributed on Dish Network and DirecTV. YouTube has already blocked RT and sister channel Sputnik on its platform in Europe. The Hollywood Reporter