Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced a limited exemption from the obligation that holders of international Section 214 authority respond to a forthcoming one-time information request concerning their foreign ownership. The narrow exemption provides relief from the reporting obligation for international Section 214 licensees that have made foreign ownership disclosures to the Executive Branch agencies known as “Team Telecom” within the last three years, subject to certain conditions.
The one-time reporting obligation to which the recently announced exemption applies relates to an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released in April, which includes a requirement that all holders of international Section 214 authority respond to a one-time information request to report all foreign individuals or entities holding a 10%-or-greater direct or indirect equity and/or voting interest in the licensee. A detailed summary of the reporting obligations and the FCC’s proposed changes to its international 214 rules can be found here.
The reporting deadline for the one-time information request has not yet been announced, but in advance of that the FCC’s Office of International Affairs (“OIA”) has adopted a limited exemption from the reporting obligation. Specifically, international Section 214 holders that meet the following conditions are exempt from that one-time information request:
- The international Section 214 holder must have filed an international Section 214 application (i.e., an initial application, application for modification, or application for a substantial – not pro forma – assignment or transfer of control) that was reviewed by Team Telecom and granted by the FCC in the last three years;
- There are no 10%-or-greater foreign interests in the international Section 214 holder other than those disclosed in the application that Team Telecom reviewed and the FCC granted; and
- There have not been any changes to the 10%-or-greater foreign interests disclosed in the relevant application as of 30 days prior to the reporting deadline. Such changes include, but are not limited to, changes in the citizenship and/or place of organization of the disclosed foreign ownership interests, removal of any foreign ownership interests from the international Section 214 holder’s chain of ownership, and changes that reduced a previously disclosed foreign owner’s ownership to a less-than-10% equity and/or voting interest (or less than a controlling interest).
To confirm eligibility for the exemption, international Section 214 holders also will need to provide the FCC with the file number for the application that demonstrates the holder meets the above qualifying conditions. In a corresponding move, OIA denied a request that the comment deadline for the FCC’s further proposed changes to its international 214 rules (summarized here) be extended 30 days. Accordingly, the deadline for comments on these proposed rules, which could have significant compliance implications for all holders of international Section 214 authority, remains Thursday, August 31.