FCC Approves Nexstar Purchase of Tribune Stations

Federal Communications Commission finds “that the proposed merger would provide several public interest benefits to viewers”

Last Updated: September 16, 2019 @ 12:13 PM

The FCC has approved the sale of Tribune Media broadcast stations to Nexstar Media Group.

“The Commission found that the proposed merger would provide several public interest benefits to viewers of current Tribune and Nexstar stations,” the FCC announced on Monday. “For example, viewers would benefit from their local stations having increased access to Nexstar’s Washington, DC, news bureau and state news bureaus.”

Nexstar outbid private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC with an all-cash offer last December.

The Texas-headquartered telecommunications company already owns 174 TV networks, reaching 39% of U.S. households. Along with the 42 local networks that combine to reach 50 million homes, Tribune also has a stake in Food Network and owns WGN America, which has a reach of 77 million homes nationwide.

That means the Federal Communications Commission has also approved “the divestiture to Scripps Broadcast Holdings, LLC; TEGNA Broadcast Holdings, LLC; and CCB License, LLC of broadcast stations in certain markets necessary for Nexstar to come into compliance with the Commission’s local and national television ownership rules.”

As part of the approval, the FCC gave Nextar the go-ahead to sell off 21 stations in markets where Tribune assets would put the company over regulatory ownership limits. Nexstar has set agreements with Tegna, Scripps and Circle City Broadcasting to sell off stations.

Prior to the Nextar deal, Tribune walked away from a merger with Sinclair Broadcast Group in August 2018. Tribune ended up suing Sinclair and accused the company of delaying the deal by being too aggressive with regulators. The FCC noted that Sinclair did not disclose pre-existing relationships the media group had with prospective buyers when negotiating the Tribune deal. Sinclair filed a countersuit.

The deal comes three months after Tribune terminated a planned purchase by Sinclair and suing the company, saying that Sinclair delayed the deal by being too aggressive with regulators. The FCC has also noted that Sinclair did not disclose pre-existing relationships the media group had with prospective buyers when negotiating the Tribune deal.

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