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US Defense Bill Requires Al Jazeera to Report on Funding, Ownership

US Defense Bill Requires Al Jazeera to Report on Funding, Ownership

Wednesday, 15 August, 2018 - 10:30
Al Jazeera America. Reuters file photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
A $716 billion defense bill signed into law by US President Donald Trump on Monday includes a provision that will require outlets like Qatar’s Al Jazeera for the first time to start reporting regularly on its funding and ownership, CNS news reported.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers pressed the Department of Justice last March to order Al Jazeera to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), citing “radical anti-American” content, the report said.

The FARA is a pre-World War II-era law requiring agents representing the interests of a foreign power to disclose their relationship as well as financial and other information.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019 requires US-based foreign media outlets to report to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) within 60 days – and then twice yearly thereafter – on their relationship to and funding by “foreign principals,” that is, foreign governments or political parties, CNS news said.

The FCC must report the information to Congress and post it on its website, it added.

Doha-based Al Jazeera is a subsidiary of the Qatar Media Corporation, which is owned by the Qatari government.

Doha is a purported US ally but one whose foreign policies – including support for the Muslim Brotherhood and US-designated foreign terrorist organization ‘Hamas’ – have drawn criticism from Washington and sparked a major rift with its Gulf neighbors, said the report.

Last November the DOJ determined that RT America, the pro-Kremlin broadcaster previously known as Russia Today, register under the FARA.

The Philadelphia-based non-profit Middle East Forum, which advocated for the NDAA provision, on Monday welcomed its signing into law, noting that while it applies broadly to foreign-owned media “its passage results primarily from abuses by Al Jazeera.”

That Al Jazeera has more reporters covering Congress than several important newspapers combined "hints at something going on beyond journalism,” CNS news quoted MEF director Gregg Roman as saying.

“With more transparency, we will learn more about the Qatari government’s intentions,” he said.

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