Despite Gannett’s plans to close its $1.3 billion acquisition of Belo’s 20 TV stations by the end of this year, the deal is unlikely to gain regulatory approval any sooner than the first quarter of 2014. The shutdown of the federal government delayed regulators’ examination of the transaction, particularly at the FCC, where the deal raises some contentious media policy issues. Not only did the shutdown delay the FCC staffers’ review of the transaction but it delayed the return of the commission to its full five-member complement.
The Department of Justice asked Gannett and Belo for more information about Gannett’s $1.5 billion purchase of Belo, the companies said Friday. Announced in June, the merger would double Gannett’s TV station portfolio and create the nation’s fourth largest owner of “big four” network affiliates. Gannett played down the DOJ’s second request as a “standard part of the DOJ review process” and reiterated that the company expects to close the transaction by the end of the year. Still, a second request can soak up a lot of time.
James Moroney, publisher and CEO of The Dallas Morning News since 2001, will become CEO of the newspaper’s parent company A.H. Belo Corp. in September when current CEO Robert Decherd retires. Decherd has been CEO of A.H. Belo since its spin off from Belo Corp. in 2008.