Qatar-funded Al Jazeera and other foreign media outlets will soon be required by the US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to register as foreign agents.
Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), individuals and organisations need to disclose their ties to foreign governments whether or not they are aiming to shape public opinion in favour of a foreign entity. Media outlets will be asked to file a report every six months with data about their structure and finances and make the report accessible to the public after 30 days.
For months now, a number of lawmakers, including Senator Ted Cruz, have been pushing for the legislation, arguing that some media outlets have tried to hide their agendas behind a facade of objective journalism. They say that this new legislation is part of a larger effort to force foreign-owned media to disclose their agendas in a bid for complete transparency.
Moscow-backed Russia Today America was required by the Justice Department to register as a foreign agent under the law in 2017; YouTube already forces each Al Jazeera video to disclose that they are funded by the Qatari government.
In an opinion piece for US newspaper The Hill, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt argued that Al Jazeera was exporting hate against the Jewish people, Israel and the US.
In the US Al Jazeera's sister network Al Jazeera America closed just three years after its launch in August 2013 as a result of low ratings. Reports of low morale among staff, law suits, gender discrimination and alleged antisemitism also tarnished the nascent news channel.