Martin Proposes Waiver in Tribune Deal

Nov 28, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin confirmed that he proposed the agency temporarily waive its media cross-ownership rules so that the purchase of the Tribune Co. can close.
In a press conference today, Mr. Martin cited the “unique circumstances” of the Tribune deal in proposing the FCC waive the rule for two years or until litigation over cross-ownership is resolved, which could be years. The FCC could grant the waiver by Friday.
Investor Sam Zell and an employee stock ownership plan are trying to close their $8.2 billion acquisition of Tribune Co., by year end, but have been on hold awaiting needed FCC action.
The deal would put the new company in violation of the existing cross ownership rule in Los Angeles, where the company owns the Los Angeles Times and KTLA-TV; in New York, where it owns Newsday and WPIX-TV; in southern Florida, where it owns the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale and WSFL-TV in Miami; in Chicago, where it owns the Chicago Tribune and both WGN-TV and WGN-AM; and in Hartford, Conn., where it owns the Hartford Courant and TV stations WTIC-TV and WTXX-TV.
The cross-ownership rule prevents the owner of a newspaper from buying a broadcaster in the same market.
Mr. Martin today noted he has proposed a change in the FCC’s cross-ownership rule that would allow cross-ownership in the top 20 markets and that the rule is slated for an FCC vote Dec. 18. Noting the Tribune deal needs a waiver approved by Friday in order for its deal to close this year, he said he proposed the waiver late Tuesday night to other FCC commissioners.
He suggested the waiver would be applicable in the unusual circumstances of the Tribune deal, but would not necessarily apply to any other forthcoming acquisitions.
“I think this is unique circumstances in that they have a transaction in front of us implicated by a rule that the [appellate] court has already indicated and has already supported the commission in removing,” Mr. Martin said. “I have proposed at the same time a change to that rule that would actually accommodate almost all the properties involved in the transaction. I would have to evaluate any other transaction that comes along.”
Andy Schwartzman, director of the Media Access Project, said he was worried the waiver would open the door to more deals, including some in smaller markets.
“My initial reaction is not positive. Count me troubled,” he said. “It’s hard to justify giving this to the Tribune and not everyone else.”


  1. You make blogging look like a walk in the park! I’ve been trying to blog daily but I just cant find writing material.. you’re an inspiration to me and i’m sure many others!

  2. Amazing freakin blog here. I almost cried while reading it!

Your Comment

Email (will not be published)