Thank you for your most recent calls to my office regarding foreign ownership of American media. I also enjoyed having the opportunity to discuss this issue with you during my radio Town Hall meeting. I appreciate having the opportunity to address your concerns.
The Communications Act of 1934 already places restrictions on foreign ownership of any broadcast licenses. Enclosed for your review is a copy of the related section of that law. I am also enclosing relevant portions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which addressed this issue.
In addition, the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection recently held a hearing to discuss the potential impact of the recent World Trade Organization basic telecommunications services agreement on television and radio broadcasting licenses. However, the agreement is designed to apply to common carrier licensees, not domestic broadcasting licensees, such as radio and television.
Regarding print media, I understand your concern about foreign ownership. Of the seven largest newspaper companies, two -- Thompson Newspapers (circulation 1.33 million, 6 dailies) and Hollinger International (circulation 1.28 million, 105 dailies) -- are Canadian. However, serveral questions arise as to how to implement any type of restriction. While broadcasters are regulated by the FCC, newspapers do not have any type of regulating agency. Further, requiring any type of regulation of the print media would draw serious constitutional problems.
However, I agree with you that media plays in incredibly important and powerful role in our society. As we discussed on the radio the other night, campaign finance reform proposals that limit the ability of candidates to get their message out merely empower the control of the editorial boards. I agree with you that foreign ownership of newspapers could be very dangerous. One wonders what the effect would be if China bought most of the major newspapers in this country.
In an effort to find some type of solution, I have forwarded both the House Oversight Committee and the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution with your concerns.
Again, thank you for contacting me. I hope you will continue to keep me informed on any matter of interest to you.
Ann M. Northup
Member of Congress