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Kansas City radio station signs deal to broadcast Russia state-owned media program

Kansas City radio station signs deal to broadcast Russia state-owned media program
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A local Kansas City radio station reportedly signed a lease with a local radio operator that will allow it to broadcast six hours of programming from a Russian state-owned media outlet.

The Kansas City Star reported Friday that Florida-based company RM Broadcasting LLC has agreements to air Radio Sputnik on the Alpine Broadcasting Corp., which broadcasts on three frequencies in the Kansas City area. The agreement allows the Russia-backed programming to be broadcast from 6-9 a.m. and 6-9 p.m. seven days a week.

The newspaper noted that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) found in 2017 that Sputnik and another Russia state-backed media outlet were involved in Moscow’s efforts to influence the 2016 election.

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The outlets “contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences,” the DNI assessment added. 

Arnold Ferolito, who runs RM Broadcasting, disputed the assessment while criticizing the government's requirement that the Florida-based company register as a foreign agent.

“Ninety percent of the programming is generated right here in the United States,” Ferolito told the Star. 

“I just sell airtime that’s all I do,” he added. “The government put a gun to my head and forced me to sign.”

RM Broadcasting was ordered in 2019 to register as a foreign agent under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, which mandates that individuals or entities in the U.S. acting on a foreign government’s behalf make public their relationships, finances and activities.

Following the order, the station revealed that it received $1.43 million in payments from a Russian government-owned news agency to purchase airtime for Radio Sputnik from 2017 to 2019. 

“They don’t pay me for anything other than the air time,” said Ferolito. “It’s costing me more money than I’m making, that’s the sad part about it.”