The DOJ’s antitrust division has told the two wireless carriers that their planned merger is unlikely to be approved as currently structured, according to people familiar with the matter, casting doubt on the fate of the $26 billion deal.
The Justice Department is OK with Nexstar’s spin-offs of eight TV stations to Scripps, part of its deal to acquire Tribune. Scripps is buying eight stations in seven markets for $580 million. The sale keeps Nexstar on the right side of FCC ownership limits.
Good feelings about the broadcasting business at the NAB last week were tempered by the slow pace of ownership regulations at the FCC and Justice Department and the threat from the ever-growing roster of direct-to-consumer streaming services. Some other random takeaways: Is the convention shrinking? | ATSC 3.0 felt more like ATSC 2.4. | There’s a repack disconnect. | Reporting on the Trump White House.
The Justice Department has warned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that its potential rule changes limiting the eligibility of Netflix and other streaming services for the Oscars could raise antitrust concerns and violate competition law.
As FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly sees it, Justice has been hostile to, say, combinations of top four TV stations in markets because it continues to hold that TV stations compete only with each other. “That’s completely wrong,” he said. “Everybody is in the same market and the big tech companies are trying to steal everybody’s lunch. We have to recognize that.”
DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim slots the event for May 2-3 and says the event may result in Justice changing how it looks not only at mergers, but also at spot advertising and retrans.
A smorgasbord of topics this week: (1) I don’t know it for a fact, but I know that it’s true that Charlie Ergen is the money behind Locast, the OTT service that is streaming local broadcast signals. (2) Retrans is also under attack from STELAR, the law that empowers satellite operators to import distant signals of network O&Os into areas where subscribers cannot receive local affiliates off air and is up for renewal. (3) With the emergence of the new Fox Corp. this week, a forecast finds that most of its broadcast fee growth will come from reverse comp. (4) A tip of the hat to FCC Comish Michael O’Rielly for taking on the Justice Department, which has been stepping on the FCC’s turf regarding local TV ownership rules.
Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world’s largest technology companies, intensifying scrutiny of the social media giant’s business practices as it seeks to rebound from a year of scandal and setbacks.
The Justice Department has signed off on the sale of 15 TV stations from Evening Post Industries’ (EPI) Cordillera Communications to Scripps for $521 million. That came in an early termination notice Tuesday released by the Federal Trade Commission, which divvies up merger reviews. The notice means that the antitrust review has been ended early with no issues that would cause the deal to be blocked or conditioned.
Lately, the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice headed by Makan Delrahim has been undermining the FCC — and perhaps even Congress — and disrupting the broadcasting business as it struggles to ward off rivals for viewers and ad dollars on multiple fronts. I cannot remember a time when Justice has plunged so deeply into the nitty gritty of the broadcasting advertising marketplace and what kind of local station combinations should be allowed.