The JCPA Contains Massive Loophole For China To Promote CCP Propaganda In US

 December 7, 2022

Even as lawmakers prepare to attach the derided media bailout bill to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill to fund national defense, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) contains a loophole that would allow foreign news organizations, including Chinese organizations, to influence the flow of information in the United States.

Given that lawmakers are planning to attach it to the NDAA, a “must pass” bill that is meant to fund U.S. national defense, it seems particularly strange that this act with its’ potential to empower foreign adversaries would be included. It seems highly inappropriate.

Already attracting condemnation for its core elements, the JCPA, supports the transfer of wealth to already-wealthy media companies and the potential for the media industry, to demand more censorship from Silicon Valley platforms. Reportedly attracting attention on the Hill, the China concerns, which, add another twist to the story, of a bill that has repeatedly been revived from extinction, by media lobbyists over the past two years.

Forcing U.S. tech companies both to carry and pay for the content of news organizations through mandatory arbitration agreements, the JCPA creates a “must carry and must pay” scheme. However, the news organizations are not limited to U.S. ones, meaning the JCPA would require U.S. companies to carry and subsidize a range of publications that spread propaganda from foreign sources. The situation would open up the U.S. to increased foreign influence over American political and social movements, and increased exposure to CCP supported narratives.

Isolating publications that are clearly “owned or controlled” by foreign powers, there is a narrow exception in the JCPA. This very weak exception, has not been revised since the JCPA was introduced, and would instantly be abused by Chinese, Russian, and other foreign interests. Essentially, the limitation, “owned or controlled” does not mean Chinese or Russian entities, cannot partner or pay publications, in other countries to carry their propaganda.

As an example, mainstream publications like Time and the L.A. Times, have had this happen, as U.S. publications are seen to insert articles that portray the Chinese government and life in China in a “positive light”, using stories from entities like China Daily. Highlighting Beijing’s increasing global media influence, Freedom House recently noted that collaborative efforts, such as these, would be strengthened by a bill like JCPA.  In their finding on “Beijing's Global Media Influence 2022”, they reported-

“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its proxies are using more sophisticated and coercive tactics to shape media narratives and suppress critical reporting. Mass distribution of Beijing-backed content via mainstream media, harassment and intimidation of outlets that publish news or opinions disfavored by the Chinese government, and the use of cyberbullying, fake social media accounts, and targeted disinformation campaigns are among the tactics that have been employed more widely since 2019.”

-Freedom House, “Beijing's Global Media Influence 2022”

By disguising their ownership of U.S. facing publications, partnering with U.S. publications, and broadcasting foreign content on U.S. platforms, adverse foreign interests will be able to leverage JCPA to convey propaganda to U.S. audiences. Many of the publishers that would benefit from JCPA, are presently carrying advertisements, and affiliated content from entities, that are owned, controlled, or influenced by the CCP and its affiliates. This means essentially, that JCPA would effectively require U.S. platforms to carry CCP sponsored speech.

Damaging U.S. competitiveness and strategic interests, by targeting U.S. companies and excluding foreign rivals from its scope, JCPA benefits these adverse interests in a way that limits American publications. Interestingly, both the Trump and Biden administrations, have challenged JCPA-style laws, and proposals in Australia and Canada.

Why is the U.S. not taking a closer look at what Congress is about to pass? Why is the JCPA being added to this bill? Bolstering adverse foreign interests with JCPA, smacks of insider capitulation somewhere. If national security is the focus – why is the JCPA a part of a national defense bill? Something is fishy somewhere.

“We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction”.

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