At the same time it brings on board three former Tribune execs: Sean Compton, who will head WGN America; Dana Zimmer, who oversees distribution; and Gary Weitman, who is in charge of internal and external communications.
With its OK following that of the Department of Justice, the commission’s move means Nexstar can close the $6.4 billion deal, which it said it expects to do shortly.
While the Justice Department signed off on the deal last month with TV station spin-offs in 13 markets, the FCC has yet to complete its public interest review of the merger. Currently, the deal is on day 192 of the FCC’s informal 180-day shot clock. An FCC spokesperson had no comment on the timing of the FCC’s decision.
The FCC’s Media Bureau has accepted for filing the TV station spinoffs that Nexstar said gets its merger with Tribune — just barely — under the 39% national audience reach cap. With that info in hand, the bureau has set the comment dates for what is the now-consolidated application for transferring stations from Tribune to Nexstar, which combines the original application and the info on just what stations are being spun off, and to whom. Petitions to deny are due May 27; oppositions to those petitions are due June 11; replies are due June 18.
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.
Dismiss, deny and reject. That was Nexstar and Tribune’s advice to the FCC related to the various parties that petitioned the FCC to block their merger as not in the public interest. They were responding to petitions to deny filed six groups and concerns raised by NCTA—The Internet & Television Association and the American Television Alliance, both of which said that without various conditions the deal should be denied.
NCTA-The Internet & Television Association said the FCC will need to put conditions on the merger of Nexstar and Tribune, otherwise the deal runs a ” material risk of consumer and competitive harm.” NCTA is primarily concerned about the impact of the merged broadcast group on retrans rates.
Apollo Global is cobbling together a major new station group by melding Cox, Northwest and spinoffs from the Nexstar-Tribune merger. Not much is known about the four-sided deal at this point, but it’s got everybody talking. Most surprising to me: Northwest and its retrans contracts may be the key to the whole thing.
Armstrong Williams: “The Nexstar-Tribune merger presents a similar opportunity to advance minority ownership and opportunity, and the FCC DOJ should take full advantage of the chance.”
Despite all the shots I have taken at Sinclair’s David Smith for his top-down meddling in news and for souring the regulatory climate in Washington, I like the idea of his owning Tribune. However, I think I like the idea of Nexstar’s Perry Sook owning Tribune even more. He can better make the case in Washington that mega-station groups are good for the country; he will be a better steward of Tribune’s news operations and will be just as committed as Smith in advancing ATSC 3.0 datacasting.
As expected, the American Cable Association has called on the government to cast a critical eye on the proposed $6.4 billion merger of Nextar with Tribune and says that without tough conditions and or divestitures, the deal should be blocked.
Nexstar Media Group’s deal to buy Tribune Media Company for $4.1 billion is the latest merger to test Trump administration regulators tasked with overseeing a rapidly consolidating media industry. Nexstar doesn’t have the same political baggage as Sinclair, but critics are just as concerned about its proposal to consolidate so many local news outlets across the country under one umbrella.
Common Cause signals it has retrans, other issues; ACA likely to follow.
The spinoffs necessary for regulatory approval will include stations in at least 13 of 15 markets: Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City; Des Moines, Iowa; Ft. Smith, Ark; Davenport, Iowa; Memphis, Grand Rapids, Mich; Indianapolis, Huntsville, Ala; Hartford, Conn.; Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pa.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Hagerstown, Md.; Richmond, Va; and Norfold, Va. Nexstar CEO Perry Sook says he expects those spinoffs will sell for around $1 billion.