FCC clears equity groups for Clear Channel investment


The FCC is allowing Providence Equity Partners and Thomas H. Lee Partners to restructure their stakes in certain broadcast companies in order to allow them to participate in the privatization deal for Clear Channel properties. All+ five commissioners approved at least in part. Stakes held by the companies in Univision via their role in acquisition group Broadcast Media Partners will be modified to non-attributable status. PEP’s stake in Univision and Freedom Communications Holdings are involved, as are Lee’s BMPI and Cumulus stakes. The approval hinges on concerting various stakes to nonvoting stock, which has long been considered non-attributable.

Michael Copps (D) agreed that the moves were legal under exiting rules, but noted that the rules make non-attributable and non-existent equal terms as far as determining ownership concentration levels is concerned. "Our attribution rules attempt to strike a balance — trying on the one hand not to discourage investment in media companies, while on the other hand trying to identify those investments that actually could bestow influence." He noted that this is "not an exact science," and said that it may be time to "take a fresh look at our broadcast attribution rules."