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NAB Favors Foreign Ownership Rule Reform

FCC should allow aggregate foreign ownership of broadcasters of up to 100 percent, association argues

“There is no legal or policy basis for broadcasters to be subject to disparate regulations that impede their ability to attract foreign investment.”

So says the National Association of Broadcasters to the Federal Communications Commission.

NAB was commenting as part of an FCC notice of proposed rulemaking that reviews foreign ownership policies.

The association said it supports the commission’s goal of simplifying the foreign ownership approval process by applying to broadcasters the simpler rules and procedures that now pertain to wireless licenses.

“Approximately 70 to 80 percent of publicly traded shares are held in ‘street name,’ which, under the commission’s current broadcast radio and TV foreign ownership rules, puts that sizable capital off limits to broadcasters,” NAB wrote. “Modernizing the foreign ownership rules will better account for this reality and its impact on today’s communications marketplace, enhancing the ability of broadcasters to attract investment capital and compete in the marketplace, and encouraging diversity of ownership and greater innovation.”

NAB said the FCC should allow aggregate foreign ownership of broadcasters of up to 100 percent; the presumption permitting non-attributable foreign ownership in broadcasters of up to 49.99 percent without prior commission approval; and the extension to broadcasters of certain petition procedures that are applicable to wireless licensees. “A more clearly defined review and approval process will provide licensees greater transparency and predictability,” NAB wrote.

It also supports the FCC’s proposal to improve the methodology broadcasters use to assess compliance with the foreign ownership benchmarks.

Read the NAB comments (PDF).