Tribune Set to Appeal Federal Order

Mar 22, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Tribune Co. vowed Monday to appeal a federal judge’s order to sell its Waterbury, Conn., television station WTXX-TV because it violates Federal Communications Commission newspaper-television station cross-ownership rules.

“This order was not a ruling on the merits of the cross-ownership rule and we believe the decision is wrong and seriously flawed,” the company said in a statement. “We will seek a stay of this ruling pending appeal and we expect that the FCC or the Supreme Court will clarify the cross-ownership rule during the appeal process.”

Monday’s ruling is the latest in a years-long battle over whether the Chicago-based newspaper and television-station group can continue to own TV stations in the Hartford area, which includes Waterbury, following Tribune’s purchase in 2000 of Times Mirror Publications, which includes Hartford’s local daily newspaper, the Courant. In addition to WTXX, Tribune owns WTIC-TV in Hartford.

The judge who gave the order said Tribune has until April 2007 — when WTXX’s license comes up for renewal — to resolve the ownership matter. But he noted that the FCC mandate to sell the station is in force now and must be heeded.