Nexstar-Tribune Merger: Déjà Vu All Over Again

"The Nexstar-Tribune merger presents a similar opportunity to advance minority ownership and opportunity, and the FCC DOJ should take full advantage of the chance." -Armstrong Williams

In the words of Yogi Berra, “it’s déjà vu all over again.”

The announcement that Nexstar Media Group will be buying Tribune Media for $4.1 billionsure looks a lot like the $3.9 billion merger Sinclair Broadcast Group had with Tribune. The merger will make Nexstar the largest local TV broadcaster in the nation, with 213 stations. In addition, under the UHF Discount, which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit recently upheld, the FCC will count only half of the audience reached by nearly all of the stations Nexstar will hold. So while actual coverage may exceed the 39% cap on the National Audience Reach any station owner may have under the Communications Act, that number will be halved, allowing the merger.

This is why the Department of Justice and FCC will undoubtedly have the same concerns they did with the Sinclair deal and require numerous station divestitures. Accordingly, like the proposed Sinclair-Tribune merger, which Tribune terminated in August, the Nexstar-Tribune merger presents an historic opportunity to advance minority ownership and diversity within the context of the divestiture requirements the FCC and the DOJ will have.

As one of the only African-American owners of television stations in the nation, I sincerely hope this happens.

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Howard StirkComment