DOJ OKs Nexstar-Tribune Merger With Spinoffs
The Department of Justice has given the green light to Nexstar Media Group’s $6.4 billion (cash and assumption of debt) acquisition of Tribune Media on the condition that it move ahead with the spin offs of stations in 13 markets where it would have overlapping stations.
The companies have already announced spinoffs in most of those markets, agreeing to sell stations to Tegna and E.W. Scripps.
The Nexstar-Tribune deal still awaits FCC approval.
“Without the required divestitures, Nexstar’s merger with Tribune threatens significant competitive harm to cable and satellite TV subscribers and small businesses,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, who heads Justice’s Antitrust Division. “I am pleased, however, that we have been able to reach a resolution of the division’s concerns, thanks in part to the parties’ commitment to engage in good faith settlement talks from the outset of our investigation.”
The approval comes in the form of a settlement on a antitrust suit that Justice routinely brings in such cases.
According to Justice’s complaint, without the divestitures the merger would eliminate head-to-head competition between Nexstar and Tribune in the 13 local markets, including Davenport, Iowa; Des Moines, Iowa; Ft. Smith, Ark.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Hartford, Conn.; Huntsville, Ala.; Indianapolis; Memphis; Norfolk, Va.; Richmond, Va.; Salt Lake City; and Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Justice said the divestitures would resolve its antitrust concerns related to retransmission consent and spot advertising sales.