The Commission’s Media Bureau approved Gannett’s $1.5 billion acquisition of Belo after Gannett and Belo said earlier in the week they reached a preliminary agreement with DOJ to spin off KMOV-TV (CBS) St. Louis. Gannett already owns KSDK, St. Louis’ NBC affiliate. DOJ said it would require Gannett and a third party, Sander Media LLC, to divest interests in KMOV. The Gannett-Belo deal now affects 19 TV stations in 14 markets. The original deal was for Belo’s 20 stations in 15 markets. Gannett currently owns 23 stations. It expects the deal to officially close on 12/23 or 12/24.
The department said that, without the required divestiture, Gannett would have gained a dominant position in broadcast television spot advertising in the St. Louis DMA, resulting in higher prices for advertisers.
In addition to acquiring the six stations from Belo, Sander will enter into several agreements with Gannett in order to both finance purchasing and operating the stations. KMOV-TV is one of the six stations Sander would acquire from Belo and would be subject to agreements between Sander and Gannett. These agreements, however, do not include any joint negotiation of retransmission rights in St. Louis.
“Gannett’s KSDK TV and Belo’s KMOV TV compete head-to-head in the sale of broadcast television spot advertising in the St. Louis area, and this rivalry constrains advertising rates,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “The full divestiture required by the department will ensure that KMOV-TV will remain a vigorous competitor in St. Louis.”
The FCC also approved Tribune’s $2.73 billion buy (announced in July) of TV stations from Local TV Holdings LLC. That deal is set to make Tribune the largest commercial TV station owner in the nation. Tribune is buying 16 stations in 14 markets from Local TV.
“On behalf of thousands of Tribune and Local TV employees across the country, I want to thank the Commission for reaching this decision; we are extremely pleased to move forward with the transaction,” said Peter Liguori, Tribune’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The logic and investment thesis underlining our acquisition of Local TV is as powerful as it is simple—in a fragmenting media landscape, there is value in scale, for our viewers, advertisers, networks, cable and satellite partners and, most important, the communities we serve. We are very excited to bring the employees of these two great companies together.”
The Commission also has approved the transfer of broadcast licenses for three Local TV stations in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and Norfolk, VA, to Dreamcatcher Broadcasting LLC.
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