Jupiter man's company sues US Dept. of Justice over demand to register as foreign agent

Posted at 1:20 PM, Oct 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-22 15:33:59-04

Lawyers for a Jupiter man have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice after it demanded his company register as a foreign agent for selling airtime to Russian media. 

RM Broadcasting filed the claim, challenging the DOJ's position that it register as a foreign agent after it agreed to resell airtime to Sputnik International on a D.C.-based radio-station. 

The company leases broadcast airtime and is owned by 76-year-old Arnold Ferolito of Jupiter. 

WPTV reached Ferolito by phone, who declined to comment on the matter.

According to the complaint, RM Broadcasting agreed to resell airtime to Rossiya Segodnya, a "Russian Federation government-owned news agency," in November 2017. The agreement called for commercial airtime on WZHF 1390, a Washington D.C.-based AM radio station that currently airs Radio Sputnik. 

The Department of Justice has taken the position that RM Broadcasting is "required by law to register as a foreign agent" under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

But the company disputes that, writing in court filings that RM Broadcasting does not "participate in, own, control, operate, or have any decision-making authority whatsoever with respect to the content of or any programming" that is broadcast. 

Attorneys for RM Broadcasting have written to the DOJ, stating that "at no time was RM Broadcasting acting under the direction and control of Rossiya Segodnya or as an agent of foreign principal." 

Court filings state that "RM merely purchases airtime from FCC licensees and resells that airtime to radio programmers pursuant to commercial service agreements" and does not participate in the content of any broadcasts. 

Ferolito is an American citizen who was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. He spent years working in the broadcasting industry and is now semi-retired.  

The Department of Justice declined a request for comment. 

Read the full lawsuit here: