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.
DOJ OKs Nexstar-Media Gen With Condition
The Department of Justice announced today that it will approve Nexstar Broadcasting’s $4.6 billion purchase of Media General with the proviso that Nexstar sell seven television stations in six markets.
The department said that without the required divestitures, the prices for broadcast television spot advertising and the fees charged to multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) for the retransmission of broadcast television programming to MVPD subscribers would likely increase in six markets.
“As originally structured, this transaction would have given Nexstar the power to impose higher prices on local and national advertisers and to demand higher retransmission fees from cable and satellite companies in six markets,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Renata Hesse of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “Today’s settlement will protect advertisers, MVPDs and consumers — who ultimately would have borne many of these increased costs — by ensuring that Nexstar does not obtain undue bargaining leverage when negotiating broadcast television spot advertising prices and retransmission fees.”
The department said that the Nexstar-Media General transaction as originally proposed would lessen competition in the sale of broadcast television spot advertising and the licensing of broadcast television programming to MVPDs for retransmission to MVPD subscribers in the following DMAs: Roanoke-Lynchburg, Va.; Terre Haute, Ind.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Green Bay-Appleton, Wis.; Lafayette, La.; and Davenport, Iowa/Rock Island-Moline, Ill. (Quad Cities).
As a result of the acquisition, the department said, Nexstar would control between 41% and 100% of the broadcast television station gross advertising revenues in these six DMAs and at least two broadcast television stations affiliated with the four major national television networks.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Nexstar must divest the following stations to the following acquirers or other acquirers approved by the government:
- WBAY Green Bay, to Gray Television Inc.
- WSLS Roanoke-Lynchburg, to Graham Holdings
- KADN and KLAF-LD Lafayette, to Bayou City Broadcasting Lafayette
- WTHI Terre Haute, to USA Television MidAmerica Holdings
- WFFT Fort Wayne, to USA Television
- KWQC Quad Cities, to Gray Television