COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL
Commission Policies and Procedures Under Section 310(b)(4) of the Communications
Act of 1934, Foreign Investment in Broadcast Licensees
Like other segments of the communications industry, broadcasters are facing an increasingly
complex, multi-platform future. But unlike other segments of the communications industry, broadcasters
have faced unique funding constraints with respect to investment from foreign shores.
Today, the Commission remedies this anomaly. We begin by acknowledging that federal law
expressly permits foreign investment of up to 25 percent in the controlling parent of a broadcast licensee.
However, we make clear one of the less clear aspects of the law—that investment that exceeds this 25
percent benchmark is permissible, if the Commission determines that it is in the public interest.
I believe that this is the right thing to do—for two fundamental reasons.
First, I believe our existing approach that treats this 25 percent threshold as an inflexible bar is
now a historical aberration. This was a policy long-ago designed to prevent foreign powers from
disrupting ship-to-shore governmental communications during warfare. But just as horses and bayonets
are not the tools of modern warfare, the cyber threats we face today are not especially well-guarded by
this prohibition. Moreover, as scores of civil rights groups have acknowledged, this historical anomaly
may have the effect of diminishing investment in small and minority-owned broadcasters.
Second, I believe the steps we take here are entirely consistent with national security objectives.
We grant no blanket waivers. We do not permit foreign entities to wholly or directly own broadcast
licenses. We will just review what comes before us on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the public
interest—and that includes appropriate deference to Executive Branch agencies with expertise in security
and trade matters. This is a modern and thoughtful approach. It has my full support.
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