FCC probing Los Angeles radio firm said to be backed by Chinese government

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Federal regulators are investigating a Los Angeles-based radio broadcasting company that is reportedly majority-owned by a unit of a Chinese government broadcaster.

A spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission confirmed Tuesday that the agency will open a probe into G&E Studio Inc., reportedly owned by James Su, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Shanghai.

The company leases stations and air time, and broadcasts in more than 10 cities across the U.S., including Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.


Its operations were disclosed in a report Monday by Reuters.

By U.S. law, foreign governments or their representatives are barred from directly holding licenses for radio stations, and from owning more than 25% in a radio licensee for a station without FCC approval.

“The FCC will initiate an inquiry into the facts surrounding the foreign ownership issues” raised by the Reuters report, including whether the agency’s foreign-ownership rules have been violated, spokesman Neil Grace said in a statement.

The owners of the stations involved in the G&E studio case are said to have signed agreements with the company to lease air time to it. On its website, G&E Studio says it produces more than 100 hours of local radio programs in Chinese and English each week.

The programs run on stations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, according to the company.

Reuters reported that the company is 60% owned by a subsidiary of China Radio International, a state-run broadcaster.