COMMISSIONER MIGNON CLYBURNRe:
Commission Policies and Procedures Under Section 310(b)(4) of the Communications Act,
Foreign Investment in Broadcast Licensees
From my earliest days as a Commissioner, I have heard time and again that a major impediment
to new entry in the broadcast industry is access to capital. These concerns, expressed by broadcasters and
public sector interests alike, highlight just how acute this situation is for those who are underrepresented
in the ownership ranks, namely minorities and women. Knocking down unnecessary barriers and
realizing greater ownership diversity will help to open our airwaves to the presentation of content that
more fully reflects the composition of our broad society. And while it may be true that the Commission
has limited jurisdiction to influence the flow of capital, Section 310(b)(4) of the Act is at least one tool we
Today, I am pleased to say, we clarify the Commission’s policies for foreign investment in
broadcast licensees by signaling that the Commission is open to considering proposed foreign investments
in broadcasting on a case-by-case basis. Doing so will help ensure that broadcasting remains a vital,
forward-leaning media service. Competition and innovation in media in the 21st century move at warp
speed, and in order to keep pace, broadcasters need new and increased sources of capital. Although other
platforms, such as telecommunications, have long had the benefit of access to foreign investment,
broadcasters have not yet fully tapped those available resources. My hope is that this action will remove
whatever hindrances may have restricted new opportunities.
Today’s Declaratory Ruling affirms that the plain language of the statute allows the Commission
to authorize foreign capital investment above the 25 percent statutory threshold in the controlling U.S.
parent of a broadcast licensee. The decision does not attempt to set forth in detail all of the criteria we
might consider in determining whether a particular investment is consistent with the public interest.
Instead, it contemplates that the Commission will proceed thoughtfully in evaluating all the facts and
circumstances implicated by any specific arrangement that is proposed. An applicant is required to
submit detailed information sufficient for us to make a satisfactory public interest finding. No investment
above the benchmark is permitted without the express prior approval of the Commission. Consistent with
our longstanding practice in reviewing foreign investment in telecommunications licensees, we will
continue to afford appropriate deference to the expertise of the Executive Branch agencies on issues
related to national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, and trade policy.
I thank the staff in the Media Bureau for their hard work on this important item.
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