U.S. Markets closed

Nexstar-Tribune merger receives FCC approval

Thomas Barrabi

Nexstar is on track to become the U.S.’s largest local television station company after the Federal Communication Commission approved its $4.1 billion all-cash bid to acquire Tribune Media.

The FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to approve the merger, which was first announced in Dec. 2018. In order to comply with FCC rules regarding television station ownership, Nexstar has agreements in place to sell a total of 21 local television stations to Tegna, Scripps and Circle City Broadcasting.

"We're very pleased with today's decision by the FCC, which enables us to clear the last remaining regulatory hurdle in our path," said Peter Kern, Chief Executive Officer of Tribune Media Company.  "We look forward to closing our transaction with Nexstar very soon."

Nexstar and Tribune Media first reached terms on a sale months after Tribune executives pulled out of an attempted acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group amid opposition from regulators. Tribune subsequently filed a lawsuit against Sinclair, arguing that the firm was too aggressive in its attempts to get the deal approved, Reuters reported.

Once the deal is finalized, Nexstar will gain control over 42 stations formerly owned by Tribune and establish a network of more than 200 outlets around the country.

“In July the Department of Justice cleared Nexstar’s pending acquisition of Tribune Media, and the FCC approval represents the final required regulatory approval needed to close the transaction.  As such, Nexstar anticipates closing the Tribune transaction and the divestiture sales shortly, at which time the Company will host a conference call, webcast and investor presentation and update the market on its synergy targets and free cash flow guidance,” Nexstar said in a press release.

Critics of Nexstar’s acquisition bid have argued that excessive consolidation of local television stations by corporate owners would hurt competition and impact the public’s access to truly local news.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS

“There is something unique about a signal in the air with the responsibility to serve community at its core. It’s one of the reasons why broadcasting remains a dominant force in local news,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who cast a dissenting vote. “It’s also why broadcasting has special status under the law—and at the FCC we have long-standing duties to ensure that the use of our airwaves is consistent with the values of localism, competition, and diversity.”

Related Articles