Academic journal article Federal Communications Law Journal

Deal or No Deal: Reinterpreting the FCC's Foreign Ownership Rules for a Fair Game

Academic journal article Federal Communications Law Journal

Deal or No Deal: Reinterpreting the FCC's Foreign Ownership Rules for a Fair Game

Article excerpt

I.   INTRODUCTION
II.  REGULATING FOREIGN OWNERSHIP OF BROADCAST
     LICENSES
A.   Background: The National Security Concern

B.   Fall of the National Security Concern and Rise of the
     Public Interest Concern

III. LICENSE GRANT AND RENEWAL UNDER [section] 301 OF THE ACT
     A. General Requirements
IV.  PRACTICAL PROBLEMS ARISING FROM CURRENT
     INTERPRETATION OF [section][section] 310 AND 301
     A. Australian Ownership of Fox Broadcasting Company
     B. Spanish Language Broadcasting: Drama in More than
        Just the Programming
        1. Univision and Telemundo
        2. Televisa, TV Azteca, and Mexican
           Communications Regulations
        3. Telemundo v. Mexico: A Storied Battle
        4. Reconsidering the FCC's Grant of Azteca
           America's Los Angeles License

V.   RECIPROCITY: PART OF A SOLUTION
     A. Past Preference for Reciprocity Test Under [section] 310(b)
     B. Possible Movement Toward Some Form of Reciprocity
        Test
VI.  CONCLUSION

INTRODUCTION

Fourteen-year-old girls, accompanied by their mothers, compete in weekly song and dance performances to win the ultimate birthday party and a talent contract with a television network. Four well-known judges try to shore up their waning fame as former celebrities by ripping apart the performances with theatrical and sometimes stinging criticisms.

Twenty-six models, identically-dressed and each bearing a metal suitcase, saunter onto a brightly-lit stage. Contestants guess the amounts in the suitcases; they agonize over taking the risk of guessing for more money or accepting settlement offers from a mysterious banker in an elevated and darkened glass chamber.

These are just two of the latest reality television shows captivating American audiences, with one possibly unexpected twist: they are both broadcast in Spanish. Quinceahera mirrors other successful reality shows, notably American Idol, except that the show's prize is based on the Latin-American/Hispanic tradition of celebrating a girl's entrance into womanhood at the age of fifteen, and the girls and judges are all Latin-American/Hispanic. (1) Vas o No Vas is identical in every respect to the new hit American show, Deal or No Deal, except that the multicultural yet identical models, contestants, host, and audience are all Latin-American/Hispanic. (2)

Popular American television programming is fast being transposed to appeal to Latin-American/Hispanic viewers as the Spanish-speaking populations in the United States and Latin America become critical markets for broadcasting networks. As of June 2005, the United States Census Bureau estimated that 41.3 million Latin-Americans/Hispanics resided in the country. (3) Mexico, an ever-growing market for telecommunications, boasts approximately seventy million residents from the ages of fifteen to sixty-four. (4) Both American and Mexican broadcasting companies are eager to capitalize on each country's burgeoning Spanish language markets.

With the changing racial and linguistic composition of the American market and the emerging strength of the Mexican market, American broadcast companies are facing a new competitive playing field. Mexican and other Latin-American broadcasting companies are guarding their own regional markets while aggressively pursuing growing Spanish-speaking American audiences; increasingly, regulated competition between the two countries has elevated to a no-holds-barred battle with uncertain legal boundaries. But the struggle over Spanish-speaking audiences is just one part of the global competition between the United States and other countries. The television broadcast community is truly international, and new competition over Spanish-language audiences merely exemplifies the broader efforts that broadcast companies are undertaking to target any nation with a substantial television-owning population.

This global competition is not without rules, at least within the United States. …

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