Tribune Seeks Lifting of Ban on Big-Market Media Mergers

Jul 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Tribune Co. has asked a federal appeals court to lift a stay preventing mergers from taking place between newspapers and television stations in markets with nine or more TV stations.

The motion, filed Wednesday, comes nearly a month after the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia blocked new Federal Communications Commission rules governing media ownership amid concerns about several elements of the new regulations that relate to midsize markets.

Tribune’s request centers on the court’s apparent support of the FCC’s lifting of the ban on a single owner controlling newspapers and TV stations in markets with nine or more stations. Tribune argues that since there is no chance of reregulating large markets the stay should be lifted on mergers that take place in those markets.

The issue is particularly important to Tribune. Aside from wanting to acquire more stations in markets where it owns newspapers, Tribune currently has waivers to own stations and newspapers in markets such as Los Angeles and Hartford, Conn., and could be forced to shed those assets as soon as 2006, when some of its broadcasting licenses come up for renewal.