FCC considers relaxing foreign investment limit in TV and radio

Reuters

Oct 25 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal CommunicationsCommission is considering relaxing the foreign investment limitin TV and radio stations as part of its review of broadcastownership rules.

Under the current rules, there is a 25 percent cap on anyforeign investment in a U.S. broadcast holding company. The FCCwill discuss the agenda at its next open meeting on Nov. 14.

"Approval of this item will clarify the commission'sintention to review, on a case-by-case basis, proposedtransactions that would exceed the 25 percent benchmark thatrestricts foreign ownership in companies holding broadcastlicenses," FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said in anotification posted on the agency's website. ()

The FCC postponed its vote in February on newmedia-ownership rules until an outside study of an impact onminority broadcasters was complete.

On Thursday, the FCC said it will conduct a study on theHispanic television landscape in the United States.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said he is optimistic that theagency will eliminate the foreign ownership restrictions.

"Under our rules, a foreign company can indirectly hold morethan a one-quarter stake in our nation's largest wirelesscarriers, cable operators, cable programmers, and Internetbackbone providers. Yet that company cannot own a similarinterest in a single radio station in rural Kansas," Pai said.

Pai added that the "disparity makes no sense, especiallyconsidering the difficult financial circumstances facing manybroadcasters."

The National Association of Broadcasters said on Thursday itwelcomed the FCC move to consider foreign investment in U.S.broadcast companies the same way it considers such investmentsin other telecommunications properties.

"Permitting new potential sources of capital for Americanradio and TV stations will strengthen our ability to continueproviding compelling news, entertainment and sports programmingand to remain competitive in a multi-channel digital world," NABsaid.

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