The Federal Communications Commission on Monday approved a media acquisition that will create the largest local TV station ownership group in the country. The Chicago Tribune reports that the agency gave the go-ahead to Nexstar Media Group’s $4.1 billion purchase of Chicago-based Tribune Media.
The deal is expected to close later this week.
“In granting the merger, the FCC said viewers would benefit from combining the two giant media companies under the Nexstar corporate umbrella,” the paper notes.
In a statement released today, the FCC is quoted saying: “The Commission found that the proposed merger would provide several public interest benefits to viewers of current Tribune and Nexstar stations. For example, viewers would benefit from their local stations having increased access to Nexstar’s Washington, D.C., news bureau and state news bureaus.”
As we reported last month, the Justice Department signed off on the deal on July 31. In the process, Nexstar agreed to divest stations in 13 markets.
“Nexstar, which launched just over 20 years ago with the purchase of a single TV station in Scranton, Pa., has grown into a broadcasting behemoth with 174 stations in mostly small and midsize markets across the U.S.,” the Tribune reports. “The acquisition of Tribune Media gives Nexstar both broadcasting history and major market heft, adding 42 TV stations including WGN-Ch. 9 in Chicago. The deal also includes cable channel WGN America and WGN-AM 720.
“Nexstar has agreed to sell 21 TV stations in 16 markets — including Tribune-owned WPIX-TV in New York — to comply with FCC and Department of Justice ownership restrictions. The company is planning to use the $1.36 billion in gross proceeds to help fund the Tribune acquisition and reduce debt.”