MMTC renews call for relaxed foreign broadcast investment rules


Arguing that access to capital remains one of the biggest stumbling blocks keeping socially-disadvantaged businesses out of broadcast ownership, the Minority and Media Telecommunications Council renewed its call for rules allowing SDBs to access foreign investors.

MMTC noted that respondent Azteca International Corporation had argued for a 51% foreign investment cap with accompanying conditions, including one requiring that a foreign-backed station would have to program to an underserved audience.

While expressing general agreement with AIC’s comments, MMTC noted it sought only a 49% cap, and thought that a programming clause was unnecessary since most SDBs would be broadcasting just such programming without one, and that it would be difficult to define the type of programming.

MMTC expressed disappointment that the FCC previously rejected a proposal to an increase with no specific explanation. It called the cap an anachronism. It concluded, “Strict restrictions on foreign investment in broadcasting are no longer rational because the Commission has relaxed the rules in the cable and telecommunications contexts to further goals that are not greater in importance to diversity. Continued severe restrictions adversely impact minority ownership by preventing opportunities for access to capital while serving no significant countervailing purpose.”