US lawmakers on Tuesday introduced several bills aimed at toughening rules for foreign media, including Russian ones. Among these bills is the Countering Foreign Propaganda Act, proposed by US Congressman Seth Moutlon and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, which aims to label broadcasts from other nations as foreign propaganda. The bill targets media controlled and owned by governments. Moulton specifically called out Russia's RT broadcaster in a press release on the bill's introduction, accusing it of spreading propaganda.
"France 24 is funded by a special audiovisual tax also called in French 'contribution à l'audiovisuel public' which is charged to all French households and companies. This tax is used to fund directly the French public service broadcasters and is not included in the government budget. The fact that we are not government-funded is certainly the reason why we are not targeted," the representative of the French state-owned broadcaster said when asked to comment on why the channel is not targeted by the proposed US bill.
The United Kingdom's BBC broadcaster, which is funded in a similar way via a license fee, refused to comment when asked the same question.
"This is not something we would comment on — You would need to speak to whoever is responsible for the bill," the BBC press office told Sputnik.
Also on Tuesday, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo introduced the Foreign Entities Reform Act of 2018 (FERA) on additional disclosure requirements for the content of any entities registered with the US Department of Justice as "foreign agents."
A third bill proposed by Congressman Joe Wilson and Senator Marco Rubio — the Foreign Influence Transparency Act of 2018 — would force foreign institutions, such as the Confucius Institute, to register as "foreign agents" and require universities to reveal donations from foreign sources of $50,000 or more.
The new draft bills appear to "limit dialogue" and bring the nation one step closer to censorship, Eurasia Center Vice President Earl Rasmussen told Sputnik on Wednesday.
In November, Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of RT and Sputnik news agency, said that the demand to register was discriminatory and contradictory to the principles of democracy and freedom of speech. She also said that Washington's demand had prevented the outlets from equal competition with foreign broadcasters working in the United States that were not registered as "foreign agents."