Commissioners Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel both called
on the FCC Thursday to act on requests to update its foreign ownership rules as
they apply to broadcast stations holdings.
They were voting to "streamline the foreign ownership
policies and procedures that apply to common carrier radio licensees and
certain aeronautical radio licensees," but took the opportunity to put in
a plug for action on an outstanding request by broadcasters that the FCC move
from a fixed 25% cap on foreign ownership to a case-by-case review.
Both commissioners said they hoped the commission would act
swiftly after receiving the last of its comments on the request by the
Coalition for Broadcast Investment, which includes CBS, Clear Channel,
Hearst, Ion, Sinclair and many others.
Initial comments came in this week and Pai pointed out that
support for that change was overwhelming, and not just from commenters like the
National Association of Broadcasters, but from more than 30 minority advocates
including Rainbow/PUSH and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council.
Lack of access to capital is one of the key impediments to
increased minority ownership of the media identified by both minority activists
and the FCC.
Rosenworcel said that broadcasters faced an increasingly
complex future and that the FCC should follow up its Thursday effort by
reviewing the record and taking action "accordingly."
Pai was more explicit on what "accordingly" should
be. He said the foreign ownership rules need relaxation and revision, echoing
his previous comments that a de facto ban on holdings above 25% makes no sense
given that the cap applies to a single rural AM station while cable, satellite,
wireless and Internet backbone competitors have no such limits. He said it is
long past time to level the playing field.
Genachowski said the FCC would continue to look
for ways to increase investment in the sector, adding he was pleased the FCC
had put out the notice on broadcast ownership.