Foreign Propaganda Channels Target the U.S.
By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Big Bird came up during Tuesday night’s debate, when President Obama cited the Sesame Street character as an example of a specific budget cut proposed by Mitt Romney. The problem with taxpayer-funded public broadcasting isn’t just the money being spent, it is that we’re subsidizing content such as one-sided foreign propaganda broadcasts.
The evidence shows that while Romney is correct in saying that we are borrowing from China to pay for public broadcasting in America, the complete truth is actually more shocking—we are borrowing from China to help public broadcasting air Chinese propaganda in the U.S.
CCTV, an official propaganda arm of the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party, is being distributed to public television stations in the U.S. through a public television programming service called MHz Worldview, a project of MHz Networks.
Florida broadcaster Jerry Kenney has taken a look at this aspect of the bias. His analysis shows that the federally-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) funneled $27,580,113 into MHz Networks and its affiliates in fiscal year 2011.
MHz Networks is a division of Commonwealth Public Broadcasting, based in Richmond, Virginia, and distributes Al-Jazeera, the voice of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Moscow-funded Russia Today (RT) channel, and CCTV, under the rubric of “Programming for globally-minded people.” MHz Worldview calls itself “alternative programming for U.S. public TV stations and other distributors.”
All of these foreign propaganda channels are being broadcast in English. He Qinglian, a Chinese scholar who came to the U.S. after working in the propaganda department of the Chinese Communist Party, has told Epoch Times that English-language propaganda broadcasts on China being beamed into the homes of Americans are part of an effort to polish the image of the regime.
“They want to, through media propaganda, subtly and imperceptibly change people’s views of China so they’re the same as those of Xinhua [the official press agency of China] and the Chinese government,” He Qinglian said. “They want Americans to stop using American values and concepts of human rights to understand China.”
As we have previously reported, Kenney hired a lawyer to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, arguing that the contracts between the public TV stations affiliated with Commonwealth are being improperly used for the purpose of broadcasting foreign propaganda in the U.S. Violations of the rules can result in financial fines and revocation of broadcast licenses. “U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the distribution in the U.S. of another country’s propaganda,” Kenney says.
Kenney has also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that the foreign propaganda channels are violating the law by not disclosing in their propaganda broadcasts that they are agents of foreign powers.
One of the foreign propaganda channels not yet carried by MHz is English-language Iranian Press TV, which has a studio in Washington, D.C. and is available in the U.S. through YouTube and the Internet. It has a “U.S. Desk” that covers the United States, and its correspondents operate in the nation’s capital and beyond.
A mouthpiece of the Iranian regime, Press TV, claims that the Israeli government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks and ran a story insisting that “Jewish bankers” are behind the financial problems in Greece.
Kenneth Timmerman has noted, in a major investigative report for Accuracy in Media, that the Obama Administration permits Press TV “to operate on American soil without a license and in violation of U.S. sanctions regulations, which ban commercial transactions with Iran. It appears to be another example of Obama coddling the terrorist regime.”
Press TV and other Iranian channels were recently taken off the air by the British telecommunications company Arqiva, and European Satellite provider Eutelsat, in accordance with European Union economic sanctions against Iran.
The group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), had urged these entities to drop Press TV and the other Iranian channels. UANI CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, said, “Arqiva has made the right decision, and we applaud it. We also applaud Eutelsat for taking these Iranian broadcasters off the European airways today. Any entity committed to free speech must completely distance itself from the Iranian regime, particularly given the regime’s libelous programming that regularly includes hate speech against religious minorities, forced confessions of peaceful dissidents and civil society activists, and show trials of political prisoners.”
The attention should now turn to Press TV operations inside the U.S.
As Timmerman reported for AIM, “Press TV has used a number of subterfuges to skirt the U.S. sanctions on commercial transactions with Iran.” It operates through the Iranian Mission to the United Nations and production companies operating in the U.S.
As this story was being written, one of Press TV’s Washington, D.C. correspondents, Marjan Asi, called AIM, asking for comment on the decision by the European satellite providers to drop the Iranian government channels. We told her that the actions were justified under the sanctions that are designed to stop her government from developing nuclear weapons. She saw it as an assault on free speech.
Asi is listed as a writer for the website of Crescent International, described as “a publication of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought.”
Some of the articles on the website include:
- EU ban on Iranian media confirms Islamic Iran’s credibility
- Grave socio-economic injustices plague Canada
- How the foreign-backed conspiracy to overthrow Assad is failing in Syria
- Corporate elite try to breathe life into moribund US election campaign
- Islamic Iran’s economic resistance continues
The website features a question of the month, which asks whether people agree, disagree, or don’t know regarding the statement, “US-Zionist threats of war against Islamic Iran are illegal and if launched could lead to the Third World War.”
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.