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FCC Issues Reminder About Foreign Investment Info

Enforcement Bureau emphasizes risks to national security interests

The chief of the FCC Enforcement Bureau is reminding license holders of their obligations to provide the FCC with accurate, timely information about foreign ownership and investments. That includes broadcast stations.

The bureau has issued an enforcement advisory to remind licensees and telecommunications providers with reportable foreign ownership, investment or control “to file prompt, accurate and complete information” about it.

“There are consequences for failing to file accurate or timely information with the FCC about changes related to foreign involvement in companies with access to U.S. communications networks,” said Chief Loyaan A. Egal in an announcement.

“When it comes to assessing U.S. national security and law enforcement interests, we will be vigilant in ensuring that companies comply with these important disclosure requirements.”

Entities holding FCC licenses must receive prior authorization from the FCC before transferring or assigning any ownership stake. Also, broadcast, common carrier and aeronautical radio station license holders are limited to a 25% foreign ownership stake unless approved by the FCC, as for instance in a recent case involving Spanish Broadcasting System.

Among other things, the bureau said, unauthorized foreign ownership of a U.S. entity can result in “unaddressed and unmitigated risks to U.S. national security and law enforcement interests.”

It said that the commission’s public interest analysis of an application rests, in part, on an applicant’s foreign ownership structure as it exists at the time the FCC considers the application and refers it to the Executive Branch for review.

“Any subsequent undisclosed and unauthorized assignments or transfers of control may alter the national security and law enforcement risk analyses, including whether and how these risks can be mitigated.”

Read the advisory.

Broadcasters have been critical of a separate effort by the FCC to tighten disclosure requirements on broadcasters around content from foreign interests.