Although Democratic FCC commissioners seem to have developed zero tolerance for even the slightest amount of additional media consolidation, Wall Street analysts are reporting that the long-pending deal to take radio giant Clear Channel private has unofficial backing from all five 8th Floor honchos. Of course, rather than create additional consolidation, this transaction would actually force spin-offs, and indeed, CCU has been selling off properties in any case.
Democrat Michael Copps is said to be ready to cast the final yea vote, ahead of deadline, which was seen as a positive development for its privatization. The next step would be to obtain DoJ approval. Anthony J. DiClemente at Lehman Brothers noted, "While this unanimous vote doesn’t guarantee anything with regards to the timing or approval at the DOJ, we believe it provides CCU and its sponsors with a solid case in favor of approval, and could help expedite the matter."
Clear Channel has sold its television stations, and although there have been setbacks, it has also been spinning off most of its stations in the sub-100 market range. It has also placed numerous properties in the Aloha Station Trust under Jeanette Tully to expedite any spin-offs needed as grandfather clauses are swept away due to the change in ownership.
RBR/TVBR observation: Most of the activity swirling around this transaction diminishes broadcast consolidation. We can think of no possible reason why any regulatory body would stand in its way. Now, whether the buyers want to go through with the deal is another matter entirely.