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FCC Will Allow Foreign Ownership to Exceed 25%

Over the years, we have received several inquiries regarding the ability of foreign entities to invest in broadcast stations in the U.S. For the most part, we receive questions regarding Canadian investment in U.S. Broadcast stations. The FCC opened opportunities for foreign investment in 2016. While the Commission generally limits foreign investment to 25% under the Communications Act, it will allow a greater ownership interest where there is no threat to national security.

Recently, the Commission issued a decision affirming this policy:

“[T]he Amended & Restated Petition seeks authority for up to an aggregate 100% indirect foreign ownership of HMTV.6 In addition, the Petitioner requests specific approval for certain foreign individuals and entities that will hold, indirectly, more than five percent of the equity and/or voting interests of HMTV, and advance approval8 for these individuals and entities to increase their interests in HMTV to certain percentages at some future time. No comments or oppositions were filed on the Amended & Restated Petition, and no parties asked for conditions to be placed on the requested ruling. As discussed below, and consistent with the input we received from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on behalf of the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector (Committee), we find that it will serve the public interest to grant the Amended & Restated Petition, subject to the routine conditions specified below.”

Accordingly, given the right set of facts the FCC may approve foreign ownership of more than 25%. This can be significant in upstate New York where there is always an opportunity for Canadian investment in local stations. We urge you to consult your FCC attorney before moving forward with obtaining foreign investors.

You can see the FCC’s recent decision here.

You can obtain more information from noted FCC attorney David Oxenford here.



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