FCC Eases Broadcast Foreign Ownership Rules

The Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved rules Thursday that will allow broadcast stations to seek approval for foreign ownership under the same rules and processes undertaken by wireless providers.

The rules adopted by the agency will implement new procedures for broadcasters who want a foreign entity to own more than 25 percent of a station. Broadcasters will no longer have to perform surveys on random samples of shareholders as they were required to do before.

“These same streamlined procedures have worked well in the common carrier context, and I’m confident they’ll work in the broadcast context,” Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said at the agency meeting. “They’ll make it easier for broadcasters to access capital, while at the same time ensuring that any foreign ownership above the 25 percent benchmark… does not compromise our national security or any other public interest.”

The rules “provide more efficient approaches, offer greater transparency and predictability, and enhance access to capital opportunities for broadcasters, while reducing regulatory burdens and costs,” Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said.

The National Association of Broadcasters applauded the move. “The FCC has taken an important step in allowing broadcasters to more freely and fairly compete for investment dollars,” said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton.

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