Monday, February 27, 2017

FCC OKs 100% Foreign Ownership

The Federal Communications Commission for the first time ever has allowed a fully foreign-owned company to take ownership of 15 U.S. radio broadcast stations, in a decision on Thursday that approved a petition to let an Australian couple take on several stations in Alaska and Texas.

For many years, Section 310(b)(4) of the Communications Act limited foreign ownership in a broadcast licensee to 20% of the company's stock, and no more than 25% of a licensee’s parent company stock. Until just a few years ago, proposals to exceed those caps were viewed as having little chance.

However, in September 2016, the FCC released an order extending the same foreign ownership flexibility currently applicable to common carriers. Under this approach, and with a few broadcaster-specific changes, broadcasters can file petitions for declaratory ruling with the FCC to seek authority to have up to 100% foreign ownership, among other things.

According to TV NewsCheck, the commission has granted the Burns’ request that their Frontier Media to be allowed to purchase the remaining 80% of shares in four companies.

Frontier Media owns a total of 15 full-power stations and nine FM translators in three states. In the Juneau, AK market it owns Country KTKU 105.1 FM, HotAC KSUP 106.3, AC KINY 800 AM, Classic Hits KXXJ 1330 AM, and talk/sports KNJO 630 AM.

In the Ketchikan, AK area it owns Country KGTW 106.7 FM and talk KTKN 930 AM.

In the Sitka, AK area it owns Classic Rock KSBZ  103.1 FM and AC KIFW 1230 AM.

Frontier Media has also grown in the Lower 48 where it owns a six-station cluster in the Texarkana, TX-AR market including country KBYB 101.7 FM, Top40 KTFS 107.1 FM, UrbanAC KTOY 104.7 FM, Classic Hits simulcast of KTTY 102.1 FM and KCMC 940 AM, and Talk KTFS 740 AM.

In its filing requesting the decision, Frontier said its ownership would strengthen investment in broadcasting (in Alaska in particular) and ensure continued service in the affected communities. In addition, it emphasized the Burns’ long involvement in civic and commercial activities in Juneau, and Richard Burns’ management of the Alaska stations as CEO since 2006 and the Texarkana stations since 2013.

In its decision approving the request, the FCC noted that their petition was unopposed and said that “we find that the public interest would not be served by prohibiting the foreign ownership of Frontier, as the ultimate controlling U.S. parent.”

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