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The Communications Act of 1934 sets a 25 percent cap on foreign ownership of tv and radio stations, but allows the FCC discretion to boost the ownership percentage in certain instances. The FCC's 5-0 vote yesterday indicated a greater likelihood the agency on a case-by-case basis would relax the 25 percent foreign ownership restriction where it deems to do so would be in the public interest.
Democrat and newly selected FCC Chair Tom Wheeler told FoxBusiness.com the vote will "encourage ownership diversity [and] expand localism." The broadcasting watchdog's decision "potentially removes obstacles to new capital investment, which will support small business, minority and female broadcast ownership, and spur innovation."
The Coalition of Broadcast Investment was a driving force behind the FCC vote. The FCC already has already permitted higher levels of foreign investment in wireless providers. Foreigners still are not permitted under FCC rules to directly or wholly own broadcast licenses.