CBS, Disney, Fox, Univision Weigh In With FCC To Support Foreign Ownership Rule Changes
March 14, 2016 at 4:00 AM (PT)
CBS CORP., THE WALT DISNEY CO., 21ST CENTURY FOX, INC., AND UNIVISION COMMUNICATIONS INC. have filed comments in a joint letter to the FCC supporting extension of foreign ownership rule relaxation.
In the letter, the parties note that the proposal to extend the looser foreign ownership limits and review procedures applicable to common carrier and aeronautical licensees to broadcasters as well have been endorsed by the NAB, the MMTC, FOX, COMCAST, NEXTSTAR, MEDIA GENERAL, and T-MOBILE, the latter of which the parties say "can be said to owe its very existence to the Commission’s previous liberalization of foreign investment in common carrier (and other non-broadcast) licensees."
The letter tells the FCC that "the modest changes proposed here, previously implemented for common carrier and aeronautical licensees, will provide broadcasters with greater predictability and reduced regulatory burdens and costs without in any way diminishing the government’s substantive oversight of foreign investment in the broadcast sector. The Commission’s proposals will promote investment in the broadcast industry -- including by facilitating access to capital by minority media entrepreneurs -- which, in turn, will help broadcasters compete with satellite- delivered networks and online platforms that are not subject to the foreign investment provisions of Section 310(b)(4)." The parties add that, as in the recent PANDORA case, publicly-traded companies often don't know the actual aggregate levels of foreign ownership they have due to the nature of trading and holding of shares through "street name" entities (like brokers), and cannot get information about specific owners under SEC rules without the owner's permission.
And, referencing the PANDORA decision, the parties say that the changes can be adopted without additional national security concerns raised by other commenters, noting that the Dept. of Justice, the FBI, the Dept. of Homeland Security and the Dept. of Defense will have the opportunity to review the applications, as has been done for almost two decades with common carriers.