Broadcasters Ask FCC to Be More Flexible on Foreign Ownership


A coalition of broadcast groups has asked the FCC to clarify that it will not foreclose, but look at on a case-by-case basis, investment in the parent company of a U.S. broadcast group owner that exceeds the FCC's de facto 25% limit on foreign ownership.

In a letter to the FCC on Aug. 31, the Coalition for Broadcast Investment, which includes CBS, Celar Channel, Hearst, Ion, Sinclair and many others, sought clarification of that point, saying it "would enable local broadcast stations to join their cable, satellite and online counterparts in having the opportunity to gain access to significant new or additional sources of capital."

Given that its competition does not have a similar de factor cap on foreign investment, the FCC's policy is arbitrary and inequitable, particularly when the FCC has liberalized foreign investment policies towards common carriers.

They ask the FCC to replace what is a historic presumption against such ownership to an actual case-by-case review using the FCC's public interest discretion. "Absent a clear statement from the Commission," they say, "the marketplace will continue to assume that proposals for above-benchmark foreign investment in broadcasters will not even be considered regardless of the facts and circumstances presented or the merits of a particular proposal."

Broadcasters are already sensitive to any signals that the FCC is trying to discourage investment in broadcast stations since it is trying to reclaim spectrum from them for wireless broadband.