The government “cannot revoke” Fuji Media Holdings Inc.’s certification as a broadcasting holding company despite the company’s past violation of a foreign ownership rule under the broadcasting law, communications minister Ryota Takeda said Friday.
Takeda also said that his ministry planned to enhance screenings with regard to the foreign ownership rule in order to prevent a recurrence.
The broadcasting law stipulates that the certification must be revoked if 20% or more of a certified company’s voting rights are held by foreign nationals.
Fuji Media’s foreign ownership share exceeded the 20% threshold between September 2012 and March 2014, but the figure has been below 20% since September 2014.
On Friday, Takeda admitted that the then chief of the ministry’s Broadcasting Policy Division was informed of the violation by Fuji Media in December 2014.
The ministry, however, decided not to revoke the company’s certification, as the breach had already been resolved, according to Takeda.
“The fact that the company breached (the rule) does not warrant an immediate revocation of the certification. It is necessary for the state of illegality to exist at the time of the revocation,” the minister said.
His view is based on the interpretation of the broadcasting law presented by the Cabinet Legislation Bureau in 1981.
“The communications ministry’s judgment then is still considered reasonable,” Takeda said.
Last month the ministry made a decision to revoke a satellite broadcast permit for the Tohokushinsha Film Corp. group.
Noting that Tohokushinsha violated the broadcasting law at the time of submitting its application for the permit, Takeda said that the company should never have been given the approval — suggesting that that the situation differed from that of Fuji Media, which had violated the law only on a temporary basis.
As part of measures to prevent a recurrence of such violations, Takeda indicated plans to create a system to check companies’ foreign ownership share regularly and establish a new department in charge of screening-related procedures.
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