CHAIRMAN TOM WHEELER
Commission Policies and Procedures Under Section 310(b)(4) of the Communications Act, , Declaratory Ruling, MB Docket No. 13-50
Foreign Investment in Broadcast Licensees
Promoting a regulatory framework that does not inhibit the flow of capital to the US
communications sector is an important goal of Commission policy. In today’s global economy,
companies regularly look beyond their borders for new sources of investment. We have heard from the
broadcast industry, however, that the Commission’s interpretation of Section 310(b)(4) is widely
perceived as an obstacle to new investment opportunities.
Today’s Declaratory Ruling clarifies that the Commission is open to considering proposals for
foreign investment in broadcast licensees that exceed the 25 percent statutory benchmark.
I want to emphasize that we are “open to considering” such proposals. This is far from an
indication that we’re going to rubber stamp them. The Commission will look at each petition and
application on a case-by-case basis to determine if approval to exceed 25 percent benchmark for foreign
ownership is consistent with the public interest, including the goals established by Congress. Those goals
include encouraging investment, innovation, media diversity, localism, and the efficient use of spectrum.
The infusion of additional foreign capital has the potential to enhance the ability of broadcasters
to use their spectrum to serve the needs and interests of their communities. Moreover, as we all know, the
Commission is engaged in an extensive process to assure that spectrum is put to its highest and best use.
Among other means, this process will utilize a voluntary incentive action to allow the market to make that
decision. I, therefore, will assess foreign ownership petitions and applications by looking at, among
other factors, whether they will help to fulfill these goals, including efficient spectrum usage.
Today’s ruling could, for example, unleash new capital to help stations to make the up-front
investment necessary to share a channel after their spectrum is sold at auction. Similarly, foreign capital
that would help a broadcaster move from the UHF band to VHF band might also further the
Commission’s efficiency goals. We are in the midst of a major effort to improve spectrum efficiency, and
I encourage those who might want to attract foreign investment to keep those goals in mind.