Update 11/14: In a unanimous vote this morning, the FCC has approved the proposal to increase foreign ownership beyond the current 25% limit. Each transaction will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
Original Report 10/24: At its November 14 Open Meeting, the FCC will vote on a proposal to allow foreign investment in broadcast companies in excess of 25% on a case-by-case basis.
Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn sent a release stating:
Today, I circulated a declaratory ruling that clears the way for increased access to capital and potential new investors for the broadcast sector. Approval of this item will clarify the Commission’s intention to review, on a case-by-case basis, proposed transactions that would exceed the 25 percent benchmark that restricts foreign ownership in companies holding broadcast licenses. I look forward to working with my colleagues toward a final Commission vote next month.
The only group currently with a waiver for such foreign ownership is News Corp. for the Fox Television Stations. That waiver was granted in 1996, ten years after Rupert Murdoch’s company first purchased the former Metromedia stations.
NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith made the following comment regarding the proposal:
NAB applauds Acting FCC Chairwoman Clyburn for proposing that the commission should consider foreign investment in U.S. broadcast properties the same way it considers such investments in other telecommunications properties. This is fundamentally fair and will serve the public interest. Permitting new potential sources of capital for American radio and TV stations will strengthen our ability to continue providing compelling news, entertainment and sports programming and to remain competitive in a multichannel digital world.
The proposal comes following the termination of the controversial sale of 93.5 KDAY Los Angeles to a group financed by China’s Phoenix Satellite Television.