The rulemaking would allow foreign ownership up to 25 percent for any FCC license as stated in the Communications Act of 1996. Currently any proposal above that benchmark requires a public interest review with other relevant Federal agencies. That could lead to long delays such as Pandora’s two year long quest to purchase 102.7 KXMZ Box Elder, SD. The newly proposed rules will create a standardized process to exceed the 25 percent limit including 100% ownership subject to the public interest review.
Licensees will be allowed request that any non-controlling foreign investor once approved would be allowed to increase its ownership to 49.99 percent without a second review and not require approval on investments of 5 percent or less. The FCC is also seeking comments on additional reforms in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that could further streamline foreign ownership reviews.
The NAB released to following statement in favor of the rulemaking proposal:
NAB applauds the FCC for opening a rulemaking exploring opportunities for easing foreign investment in local radio and TV stations. We share the Commissioners’ belief that relaxing these ownership regulations will spur new investment in broadcasting leading to job creation, increased production of locally oriented programming, and greater public service to communities.