In late February, the Federal Communications Commission's Media Bureau invited comments from the public on changing its long-standing policy concerning foreign entities or persons owning more than 25% of a U.S. broadcast company. Specifically, the FCC Public Notice stated that a request before it "asks the Commission to clarify that it will conduct a substantive, facts and circumstances evaluation of proposals for foreign investment in excess of 25 percent in the parent company of a broadcast licensee, consistent with and in furtherance of its authority under" Section 310(b)(4) of the Communications Act. The request itself was filed late in August of 2012 and, as we explained, approval would only serve "as an opening to the status quo."
In our April 24 Blog, we reported that the comments and replies filed in April evidenced nearly unanimous support for the change in process initially requested by the Coalition for Broadcast Investment. But, despite the absence of opposition to this requested procedural change, nine months have passed without any definitive action by the agency.
It is clearly time. After all, if the Softbank acquisition of Sprint can be cleared by the Committee for Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) in a matter of months with only a handful of "national security-related" protections required of the Japanese company (none of which would relate to a similar acquisition of a broadcast company), it should not take the FCC twice as long to alter a procedural obstacle of its own making.
If not now, when?