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Commenters Debate FCC Proposals on Ownership Reporting

Posted in Broadcasting & Cable

Interested parties have filed comments at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding proposed changes to the requirements for ownership reports.  In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released in January, the FCC asked for comment on several issues related to the ownership reports filed by broadcast licensees and by others with attributable interests in licensees.

Among other things, the FCC noted that under the single majority shareholder policy, minority shareholders in companies that have a single majority shareholder are not deemed to have attributable interests in the company.  Accordingly, such minority shareholders do not need to be identified in ownership reports.  The FCC asked whether, going forward, it should require reporting of these non-attributable interests.

Commenters disagreed on the FCC’s proposal.  For example, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) asserted that requiring reporting of non-attributable interests would “significantly burden licensees and their investors without providing public interest benefits.”  Another group of commenters took the opposite position, however, arguing that non-attributable shareholders “could exercise significant influence over a broadcast station’s operation” and therefore should be identified in ownership reports.

Reply comments to these and other proposals at issue in the NPRM will be due by March 1.  There is no fixed deadline by which the FCC must act.