The $600,000 deal between Connoisseur Media and Pandora for KXMZ in South Dakota has been stuck at the FCC for two years while the Commission tried to determine whether or not Pandora's investors owned more than 25 percent of the company. Broadcast licenses can not be owned by companies that have over 25 percent foreign ownership (a rule even broadcasters want changed). Pandora has been unable to determine the exact percentage of foreign ownership. Despite that fact, yesterday the commission finally approved the deal stating the public interest would be served.
As the owner of a traditional radio station, Pandora is hoping to be considered just like radio when it comes to fees it pays to ASCAP and BMI. However, that's something ASCAP has said is not going to happen, which may lead to yet another fight between those two companies. ASCAP argued the Connoisseurdeal should be denied because, "Pandora is motivated by obtaining the benefits of copyright licensing payment terms applicable to broadcasters rather than by a sincere desire to become a broadcaster."
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said holding up this deal for so long was absurd. "Let?s put this in perspective. Today, foreign companies can own majority interests in cable operators, cable programmers, common carriers, Internet backbone providers, satellite video providers, newspapers, and the list goes on. Indeed, foreign companies now own majority interests?together worth tens of billions of dollars?in two of the four nationwide wireless carriers. And right now, over 79 million Americans?more than 10,000 times as many people as live in Box Elder?listen to Pandora?s Internet radio service.1 Yet the Commission has tied itself (and Pandora) in knots trying to determine whether foreign interests own more than 25% of Pandora stock, and if so, whether Pandora should be able to own a single FM radio station in a small South Dakota town. This is absurd."
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