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Foreign Media Ownership Change Up for FCC Action

Item will clarify commission’s intention to review case-by-case, proposed transactions that would exceed 25%

The FCC is set to consider relaxing the agency’s reviews of foreign media ownership tomorrow.

The action would be the first item publicly voted on affecting broadcasters under new Chairman Tom Wheeler.

We’ve reported that supporters say that allowing foreign investors to acquire more than 25% of a deal would help attract investment to the sector. Critics, like Free Press, say such a change will lead to more media consolidation.

Broadcasters and minority groups asked for the change in August. Without it, the Coalition for Broadcast Investment told the commission potential investors would assume such agreements wouldn’t be allowed.

The item will clarify the commission’s intention to review, on a case-by-case basis, proposed transactions that would exceed the 25% benchmark that restricts foreign ownership in companies holding broadcast licenses.

Earlier this year the agency passed such a change for telecom companies. Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Ajit Pai have pushed for the relaxation. Pai said recently the disparity between broadcasters and telecom companies in this area “makes no sense, especially considering the difficult financial circumstances facing many broadcasters.”

NAB supports the change as well.