updated 12:18 pm EST, Thu January 16, 2014
Commission cites foreign-ownership rules
The Federal Communications Commission has reportedly sided with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), stalling Pandora's application to acquire a terrestrial radio station based in Rapid City, South Dakota. The commission is said to have notified the streaming music company of the decision, which cites foreign-ownership rules as a remaining hurdle, according to a Billboard report.
Current regulations are said to require Pandora to prove that it is at least 75 percent owned by US citizens, with a maximum of 25 percent foreign ownership. As a publicly traded company, Pandora supplied mailing addresses for its shareholders as evidence of domestic ownership.
The FCC is said to have rejected mailing addresses as insufficient evidence of citizenship, noting in its letter that the company "may not rely on this data in making its foreign ownership certification."
ASCAP has criticized Pandora's acquisition plans, claiming the buyout is a "theatrical media stunt" that is intended to serve as a bargaining chip to achieve lower royalty rates. After moving to acquire the terrestrial station last June, the company reportedly argued that its entire service should be eligible for a slightly lower royalty rate that is paid by other terrestrial radio stations that provide Internet streaming service.
Despite the FCC's objection to Pandora's domestic-ownership evidence, the company has an opportunity to provide adequate data and continue with the application process.