Broadcast Foreign-Ownership Restriction Eased by U.S. FCC

The Federal Communications Commission said it would consider approving transactions that increase foreign ownership of U.S. broadcasters, a move sought by companies that said it would boost investment.

The agency on a 5-to-0 vote at its monthly meeting in Washington today said it would examine on a case-by-case basis deals that raise the share of foreign ownership above 25 percent.

Such transactions had faced a de facto ban, Commissioner Ajit Pai, a Republican, said in a statement urging the agency to act. The restriction doesn’t apply to non-broadcasters such as cable, satellite and Internet operators, Pai said.

The FCC already has the power to consider deals that exceed the 25 percent threshold, and a clarification lets the marketplace know such deals aren’t forbidden, a group including CBS Corp. (CBS), Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. (SBGI) and the Walt Disney Co., which owns ABC, said in a letter to the agency.

Granting the request “would help inject vital investment capital into the broadcast industry,” the National Association of Broadcasters, a Washington-based trade group, said in a filing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Todd Shields in Washington at tshields3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net

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