Will Al Jazeera English be 'ensnared' by this US media law?

Al Jazeera English Channel staff prepare for the broadcast inside the news room in Doha, Qatar. (File photo: AP)

Some congressional republicans in the US hope that a new law, designed to require financial disclosure by foreign media outlets, will force transparency in the operations of media headquartered in Qatar, according to a piece by American news and opinion website, The Daily Beast.

Being the biggest among those media outlets, Al Jazeera English, which has been repeatedly accused of promoting terrorist groups, could most likely be “ensnared” by this new law.

The law requires Media outlets that produce or distribute video for US consumers via multichannel video programming distributors and would be an “agent of a foreign principal” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), according to Lexology legal news website.

In other words, any media outlet owned, controlled, funded or partially funded, or advancing the interests of a foreign government must register the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) under the new rules.

The Daily Beasts quotes the spokesperson of Lee Zeldin, a member of the US House of Representatives, saying that “he is supportive of requiring Al Jazeera, for example, to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”

The website also quotes one GOP aide saying: “The Qataris also run other outlets like Middle East Eye, digital platforms, etc,” the aide told The Daily Beast. “Some are US-based, some just transmit here, some publish overseas and get bounced into Twitter and Facebook by bots. If they were paying lobbyists to do it they'd have to register under FARA and log all their activities, so we'd have transparency into how they're targeting Americans. But since it's their own media, the network and their influence are opaque.”

Al Jazeera English did not respond for comment on the matter, and to date, no Qatari media outlet has registered with the FCC under the new disclosure rules, according to The Daily Beast.

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