FCC Allows Univision to Boost Foreign Ownership

The FCC is allowing foreign investors to own up to a 49% equity stake in TV and radio station owner Univision, including up to a 40% stake by Mexico's Televisa.

That came in a declaratory ruling this week after a petition by Univision and Televisa went unopposed.

The FCC said it granted the petition "because this increased level of foreign investment in Univision will facilitate investment from new sources of capital in Univision that would not otherwise be available and encourage reciprocity by foreign governments."

Televisa supplies over a third of Univision's programming and bought an equity stake in Univision in 2010 (10% equity, 14.4% voting interest).

Univision and Televisa had sought the declaratory ruling in advance of an initial public offering that could increase the foreign investment beyond the current 25%.

"We find that the public interest would not be served by refusing to grant Univision’s petition for a declaratory ruling to permit foreign ownership of Univision Holdings...above the statutory cap of 25% and up to 49%."

"The FCC’s decision will enable Univision to accommodate increased foreign investment that may result from share purchases by the public in an IPO while enabling Televisa (an existing investor in, and business partner of, Univision) to increase its current equity stake in the company," Univision said in a statement.

In 2013, the FCC clarified its foreign ownership rules to indicated that the 25% cap was simply a trigger for further scrutiny on a case-by-case basis.

There had only been one related declaratory ruling decision since then, when the FCC granted a Pandora Radio request to exceed the 25% foreign ownership benchmark in buying a South Dakota radio station.

The FCC also last year streamlined its foreign ownership rules, though they have not yet taken effect.