Reuters reported this week that it had identified 33 radio stations across 14 countries and four continents that were conduits for information generated or sponsored by China Radio International (CRI), the government’s official “news” source.
At least 15 U.S. stations, including Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, Houston and San Francisco, were connected to G&E Studio in Southern California’s West Covina. It is majority-owned by a subsidiary of CRI.
That bumps up against at least a couple of federal laws. A foreign government can’t own more than 20% of a radio station and foreign governments seeking to influence public or political opinion have to register with the U.S. government.
It doesn’t appear that anyone let the feds known that the Chinese were giving the American public an earful, but there is some question as to whether they skirted the law on station ownership. They don’t actually own the stations. They lease a station’s airtime—most of it.
Reuters led their story with an anecdote about news coverage of a diplomatic showdown in August between China and foreign ministers from 10 nations over disputed artificial islands in the South Sea. WCRW in Washington, D.C. conspicuously left out of their reporting the centerpiece of the dispute, the artificial islands, and said it was simply outside forces being aggressive and lying to the world.
China, through a Beijing-based subsidiary, owns 60% of the company that leases nearly all of the station’s time. Reuters said American officials who oversee illegal foreign media intrusions were unaware of the network’s China connection.
G&E Studio says on its website that it was founded jointly by EDI Media Inc. and Global Broadcasting Media Group (GBMM) in September 2009 and develops programming for more than 10 radio stations. China Radio International says it established GBMM “to help CRI enlarge its industry scale and advance its industry level, boost its strength, provide more development methods, develop CRI brands and widen its influence.”
Reuters said the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) told them it began investigating G&E Studio last month after the news organization talked to the FBI. James Su, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Shanghai, runs the company, which produces original material or acquires CRI content for broadcast by the network of radio stations.