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FCC May Allow Greater Foreign Ownership of TV Stations

Next month, the FCC will consider whether to allow foreign ownership stakes in TV stations that are larger than 25%, although such holdings will still be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Broadcasters are praising the potential move, which the commission will consider at its Nov. 14 meeting, as necessary to open up new capital for stations.

FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said that such a change would clear the way for “increased access to capital and potential new investors for the broadcast sector.” There is now a 25% cap on foreign ownership, but the proposal would give the commission more flexibility to review each transaction that exceed that limit.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) have urged the FCC to make such a rule change, but subject to a national security review. In April, Sharon Weston Broome, a Louisiana state senator who is national president of the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, also urged the FCC to relax the rules, arguing that “foreign broadcast investment is key for industry growth and for the sustainability of minority ownership.”

Gordon Smith, the president and CEO of the National Assn. of Broadcasters, said that if the FCC adopts the proposal, it would be treating foreign investment in broadcast properties the same way it does other telecommunications businesses.

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