Sinclair Settles DOJ Antitrust Investigation

The station group said the consent decree resolves DOJ concerns about the sharing of advertising pacing with other station groups. The settlement does not include an admission of guilt or involve any monetary damages for fines, Sinclair said. Other station groups are said to have been drawn into the investigation, but no word on whether they have settled.

 

DOJ Urges Court To Vacate AT&T-TW

The judge who refused to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner ignored “fundamental principles of economics and common sense,” the Department of Justice writes in court papers filed Monday with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Discovery Gets Govt. OK For Scripps Deal

Discovery says the DOJ had concluded its investigation into the proposed merger, clearing the way for the deal to close.

Will Trump Admin OK A Fox Sale To Disney?

A month after it sued to block AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner, President Trump’s Justice Department may have to start scrutinizing another big media deal: Disney is widely expected to acquire the majority of 21st Century Fox. In some respects, a potential Disney-Fox deal would pose more antitrust problems than a combination of AT&T and Time Warner, CNN’s parent company.

AT&T, DOJ Squabble Over Trial Start Date

In the opening round of the Justice Department’s suit to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner, the parties disagree over when the trail should start and how long it should last. AT&T wants to get things going on Feb. 20 and wrap it up in 10 days. The DOJ argued for a May 7 start and 15 days.

 

AT&T Offers Alternative To Breakup Demand

If allowed by the Justice Department to proceed with its acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T said it would submit to baseball-style arbitration to settle complaints that it is gouging other MVPDs on rates for Turner programming. The offer was made in filings in the DOJ’s suit to block the deal altogether.

COMMENTARY BY BOB SCHERMAN

DOJ’s Got It Right: Block AT&T-Time Warner

Satellite Business News Editor Bob Scherman: If it wants to protect American consumers and the public interest, the Justice Department must block AT&T’s attempt to swallow up Time Warner. No conditions would make the transaction beneficial to American consumers.

 

Consumer Groups Oppose AT&T-Time Warner

The groups argue that the pending merger of  AT&T and Time Warner “would create a media and telecommunications giant with the ability to use its assets to dominate markets, hold back competition, and harm consumers by inflating prices and impeding innovative new video services.” 

AT&T-Time Warner Merger Hangs In Limbo

After eight months of scrutiny by the Justice Department’s anti-trust regulators, the fate of the merger is still unclear. Among the reasons: Trump’s nominee to run the DOJ’s anti-trust division is still awaiting Senate confirmation and concerns that White House may weigh in given Trump’s antipathy toward CNN, one of Time Warner’s prized possessions.

 

DOJ Subpoenas Three WPP Ad Firms

All four of the major holding companies — WPP, Interpublic, Omnicom and Publicis Groupe — have now acknowledged that subsidiaries within their respective folds have been subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with its ongoing inquiry into commercial production practices.

DOJ OKs Nexstar-Media Gen With Condition

The Justice Department says Nexstar must sell seven stations in six markets to buyers vetted by Justice as a condition of approving the $4.6 billion Media General acquisition.

STATION ADVISORY

DOJ Will Not Change ASCAP-BMI Decrees

Siding with music users, the Justice Department concludes that the consent decrees call for “full-work” — rather than “fractional” — music licensing. ASCAP and BMI head to court and Congress.

FOIA Program Aware Of Journo Concerns

Some journalists have expressed concerns in recent days over a federal government pilot program that would release documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act to the public via online portals. “It would absolutely hurt journalists’ ability to report on documents they obtained through a FOIA request if the government agency is going to immediately make records available to the public,” noted Vice News investigative reporter Jason Leopold.

DOJ Wants FCCTo Up Spectrum Reserve

The Department of Justice is adding to the pressure on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to set aside a larger spectrum reserve in the broadcast incentive auction for bidders other than AT&T and Verizon. Writing to Wheeler, William Baer, the assistant attorney general for the DOJ, implored the chairman to use the broadcast incentive auction policies “to ensure that wireless carriers, other than those that currently hold the majority of low-frequency spectrum, have a meaningful opportunity to acquire the spectrum necessary to foster a competitive wireless market.”

Nexstar-CCA Deal Gets Justice OK With Sale

Nexstar Broadcasting Corp has won U.S. antitrust approval to buy Communications Corp of America on condition that it sell WEVV Evansville, Ind., the Department of Justice said Wednesday. Nexstar said in early August that it was selling WEVV to Bayou City Broadcasting for $18.6 million.

Public Interest Groups Blast Comcast-TWC

More than 50 public interest groups submitted a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler calling the proposed merger of cable providers “unthinkable” and urging it to block the deal. It also asked the same of the Justice Department.

JESSELL AT LARGE

The DOJ’s Anti-JSA Arguments Are So 1997

Justice’s 18-page filing in support of the FCC’s proposal to kill JSAs is a bloated document that has a slap-dash quality and is notably short on substance. What’s worse, it references comments it made in a similar FCC proceeding in 1997, saying they continue to make a lot of sense. 1997?! That’s 17 years ago. I would say that anything written about media markets in 1997 is totally irrelevant today.

Justice Department Revises Media Rules

It is revising its rules for obtaining records from the news media in leak investigations, promising that in most instances the government will notify news organizations beforehand of its intention to do so. The revised procedures are designed to give news organizations an opportunity to challenge any subpoenas or search warrants in federal court.

Justice Supports FCC Crackdown On JSAs

“The Department [of Justice] believes it is appropriate for the commission’s ownership ‘attribution’ rules to treat any two stations participating in a JSA (or agreement similar in substance to a JSA) as under common ownership,” said DOJ’s antitrust division in a Feb. 20 filing.

DMA 21 (ST. LOUIS)

KMOV To Be Spun Off To Smooth Gannett Buy

Gannett Co. can move ahead with its purchase of Belo Corp. as long as the deal does not include CBS affiliate KMOV St. Louis, antitrust enforcers at the U.S. Justice Department said today.

DOJ Studying Sinclair-Allbritton SSA Plan

As part of its proposed $985 million purchase, Sinclair has proposed spinning off its stations in two markets to comply with FCC local ownership rules while proposing to provide sales and other non-programming support services to them. Those side deals have drawn heavy flak in petitions to deny at the FCC, on grounds that the arrangements would give Sinclair too much power in those markets, including over retransmission consent negotiations with cable operators. Now, the Department of Justice is said to be investigating those same allegations.

Shield Law Sparks Debate Among Journalists

Last week, a Senate panel voted to approve a compromise that defined a journalist, clearing the way for the proposed media shield law to be voted on by the full Senate. But journalists around the country had plenty to say about a law that would exclude some bloggers.

DOJ Wants More Info On Gannett’s Belo Buy

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.

AP Case Adds To WH’s Tough Stand On Leaks

The Obama administration has proven to be even tougher than President George W. Bush on prosecuting national security leaks. The seizure of Associated Press phone records this week is just the latest example.

RTDNA Slams DOJ For AP Records Grab

The TV news group calls the Justice Department action of secretly obtaining the AP phone records an “unprecedented invasion of privacy” and “a blatant violation of basic rights afforded by the First Amendment.”

ANALYSIS BY SCOTT R. FLICK

Will Marijuana Ads Affect License Renewals?

Broadcasters don’t know it yet, but recent actions by the Department of Justice suggest that the federal government may be moving closer to raining on their upcoming license renewals. The reason? Medical marijuana advertising.

Comcast Talks With Govt. On NBC Heat Up

Talks have intensified in recent days between U.S. regulators and representatives of cable giant Comcast Corp. over its bid to take control of NBC Universal, according to people familiar with the talks. Comcast is pushing to close the deal by year-end, the sources said.