Big media mergers and acquisitions including the pending Nexstar purchase of Tribune Media will be facing increased scrutiny with the Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives starting Jan. 3, NBC News reports.
“Lawmakers and media players are re-adjusting their strategies and preparing for a slew of new hearings and investigations” in anticipation of the new Congress, the story reports.
“Democrats have already started to circle their wagons around Nexstar’s proposed purchase of Tribune Media, with Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, saying in a statement Monday that the merger ‘would undoubtedly lead to mass layoffs in newsrooms at a time when our free and diverse press is already under assault,'” NBC News reported this week.
The report notes that a group of 14 organizations spearheaded by Public Knowledge wrote last week to representatives who will be leading two key House committees to request hearings on the proposed merger of T-Mobile and SoftBank-backed Sprint, which has run into opposition on the Hill before.
“The letter, addressed to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., incoming House Judiciary Committee chair, and Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee chair, urged them to name a date in the first quarter next year to hold hearings on the merger,” the story reports.
The groups, who include the Communications Workers of America and the Writers Guild of America West, said Congress should “examine the single largest pending wireless telecommunications merger, and one of the largest in the nation’s history.”
They added that it would be an “excellent first step to implementing your vision for stronger antitrust enforcement, protecting consumers, promoting competition, and standing up for American workers.”
But the report notes that “while the House can put pressure on regulators, it can’t actually prevent a merger, said Gigi Sohn, a former counselor at the Federal Communications Commission and the co-founder of Public Knowledge.”