New FCC Rules Streamlining Foreign Ownership/National Security Review Processes to Take Effect on December 28th

After publication in the Federal Register on November 27, 2020, the FCC’s changes to the review process for certain applications involving foreign ownership will go into effect on December 28, 2020, with the exception of rules requiring OMB review and approval.  As our firm explained in an earlier Client Advisory, these rules are designed to streamline and improve transparency of what had been an uncertain and unpredictable process.

Previously, the Executive Branch agencies informally referred to as “Team Telecom” would draft rounds of questions for applicants after FCC referral, a process that could take several months.   To improve timeliness and transparency in the process, the new rules establish a time frame for review.  Further, the International Bureau will issue a standard set of national security and law enforcement questions, expected to encapsulate what used to be a standard part of initial triage questions, to be included in certain applications. 

With more information provided by applicants at the outset, the FCC might not refer the same types of applications as it commonly did in the past.  The new rules expand the FCC’s discretion in making referrals.  Referrals of international 214 and 310(b) applications will no longer be essentially automatic; the FCC retains discretion to exclude such applications from referrals.  Further the FCC retains discretion to refer any other types of applications if it finds that executive branch participation is necessary for the FCC’s public interest determination.

If you would like to know more about the FCC’s review of applications involving foreign ownership and the Executive Branch agency review process, please contact Linda McReynolds at lgm@commlawgroup.com

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