Over 150 media organisations have been asked to put themselves on the Foreign Influence Transparency Register.
Many of those on the list are ethnic community radio stations.
Documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information show the big banks, large telecommunications companies, media organisations, multicultural groups and advocacy groups were written to in a mass mailout earlier this year.
The mass mailout strongly encouraged recipients to consider whether they had undertaken “registerable activity”, defined as “undertaken on behalf of a foreign principal” and “for political or governmental influence.” Only 45 organisations have so far listed themselves on the register.
Sydney multicultural community station 2000 FM is at the top of the media organisation list, followed by other ethnic community stations:
- 3ZZZ Melbourne Ethnic Community Radio
- 4EB FM 98.1
- 6EB FM 296
Other private narrowcast stations, including 3XY Radio Hellas and a range of Chinese broadcasters are also on the list:
- 2AC Sydney Australia Chinese Radio
- 2CR China Radio Network
- 2OR Australian Oriental Radio
- 2ME (Arabic)
Stations with some ethnic programming are also listed, including:
- 2GLF 89.3FM
- 2RSR FM Radio SkidRow
- 96.5 Inner FM
- CMS Radio FM 91.1
A range of Indigenous community stations have also received letters asking them to register, including:
- 4K1G FM
- 6GME – Radio Goolarri 99.7FM
- 8KIN FM
Russell Anderson, the Executive Officer of the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council (NEMBC) thinks the letters are “overkill” and that there is “racism” in the action by the Attorney General’s Department.
It seems like overkill to be going after community organisations like ethnic community radio stations that derive the vast majority of their funding from local communities or local government.
Yes to transparency but it needs to be targeted at the organisations that have the capacity to hide large amounts of money.
There seems to be a hint of racism in this, just because you have an ethnic or multicultural name you can be targeted.
Ethnic community radio stations should have nothing to hide by signing-up to a Foreign Influence Transparency register, but on the amount of money they have is it really worth the administration costs and time of the Attorney Generals Department to go after the small fry? A nuanced approach would have been better.
The broadcasters seem to be in good company. The ABC, SBS, CRA, the CBAA, ARN, AAP, Fairfax, NIRS, First Nations Media and many of Australia’s other mainstream media organisations are also on the list and have received letters.