FCC defends Pandora’s radio station ownership against ASCAP challenges

pandora and KXMZ canvas newPandora successfully acquired KXMZ radio station in South Dakota in May, but that doesn’t mean the ownership stayed on secure footing. ASCAP challenged two elements in Pandora’s action to buy the station shortly after the purchase closed, but the FCC today denied them both.

First, it raised concerns aout the company’s navigation of laws that limit foreign ownership of U.S. radio. Second, it questioned Pandora’s motivation in buying the station and how it would impact the PRO’s business. “If Pandora uses its newfound status as a broadcaster to successfully litigate lower licensing fees, large music publishers may well follow through on their threat to withdraw from ASCAP,” it said in the FCC challenge.

The FCC has now responded that ASCAP’s business concerns are based on speculations. “Because ASCAP’s predictions depend on the independent actions of third parties, the Bureau concluded that ASCAP had not established either causation or redressability, two requirements for judicial standing,” it said.

Anna Washenko


  1. The FCC ruled correctly on all issues involved with the station sale.

    Foreign ownership. Was settled decades ago during some purchases involving what we currently know as Univision, at that time it was Spanish International Network (SIN). There was some question about percentages of ownership of stock in the company, (they were private then), and after some time it was settled.

    All major companies that own television or radio stations in this country have some foreign ownership as most are publicly traded on the stock market, and large institutional investors often have clients that are from overseas, and since the SEC regulates the stock market, not the FCC, you have to go there to find certain things out about who owns what as far as major shareholders go.

    On the rate disparity, Pandora is only going to be running a mainstream CHR format here, it’s not going to really affect overall the payout one way or another. I doubt it will, there are said to be over a billion individual stations created by Pandora users, so what’s one station.

    On it affecting ASCAP and its clients overall, not really likely to even if it were to matter. It won’t be adverse, in fact, it would allow Pandora to acquire more content from ASCAP or BMI clients to put into the database for listeners to pull and build stations on. That is a plus that any PRO would love to see happen with Pandora, given its market-leading position in the streaming media space.

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