The Chinese regime has paid almost $4.4 million to a Washington-based radio station to broadcast propaganda to U.S. households, new federal disclosures show.
CGTN, the global arm for China’s state-run broadcaster CCTV, has paid $4.35 million since July 2019 to WCRW, a daytime radio station covering Washington, Virginia, and Maryland, to broadcast its content for 12 hours each day.
Little known to the listeners is that Beijing controls much of what goes on air. An agreement signed this past July—and revealed in a filing with the Justice Department last week—bars the radio station from altering or shortening CGTN’s program content or inserting advertisements without express permission from the Chinese broadcaster. The contract is between WCRW and the International Communication Planning Bureau, a body ultimately overseen by the Chinese regime’s Propaganda Department.
WCRW’s website states that it has broadcast China Radio International, another major state-run Chinese international radio broadcaster, from Washington since 1992.
China Radio International merged with CGTN’s parent company CCTV and another national radio network in 2018 to form the China Media Group, also known as Voice of China. The ICPB sits under the China Media Group.
In 2019, Potomac Radio Group took over WCRW and a Spanish radio station from its former owner New World Radio Group, and “decided to continue the legacy programming on both radio stations,” Brian Lane, the company’s chief financial officer, told The Epoch Times.
“We are not agents of the Chinese government. They are our customer. Just as a rental agency could lease cars or apartments to foreign governments, we lease air time,” said Lane. In 2015, the radio station’s former owner had a meeting with the Department of Justice about whether they should file disclosures, according to Lane.
“The Department did not require registration and we relied on that guidance when we purchased the two stations from them,” Lane said, adding that they decided to register in December as the “Department views have evolved in the last year.”
Potomac has since sold the Spanish station. The company is now considering selling WCRW and “getting out of the radio business completely,” Lane said.
The New World Radio Group did not respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comments.
Potomac Media’s registration as a foreign agent comes as Washington becomes increasingly wary of Chinese propaganda activities in the United States.
CGTN has suffered a string of setbacks in multiple countries in recent years.
The Chinese broadcaster has recently stirred controversy by releasing an email attributed to Peng Shuai, the Chinese tennis player whose safety had been questioned since she made a sexual assault claim against a former high-ranking Chinese official.