The FCC today, after a lengthy review process, approved Nexstar’s $4.6 billion acquisition of Media General.
The approval of the deal comes with the FCC’s blessing on the station divestitures planned by Nexstar, which will bring the newly combined station group in line with the Local Television Ownership Rule.
“We have reviewed the proposed merger and related pleadings and conclude that grant of the applications as requested will comply with the Commission’s rules,” the FCC wrote in its approval.
Nexstar will have to sell WBAY in Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Gray Television; WSLS in Roanoke-Lynchburg, Virginia, to Graham Holdings; KADN and KLAF-LD in Lafayette, Louisiana, to Bayou City Broadcasting; WTHI in Terre Haute, Indiana, to USA Television MidAmerica Holdings; WFFT Fort Wayne, Indiana, to USA Television; and KWQC Quad Cities (Iowa and Illinois) to Gray Television to comply with TV ownership rules.
The stations also need to fall under the national audience reach cap for commercial licensees, which would prevent license transfers if doing so would place national audience broadcast reach at 39% or above. To adhere to the cap, Nexstar and Media General will also have to sell KREG in Denver; WCWJ in Jacksonville, Florida; KIMT in Rochester, Minnesota; WLFI in Lafayette, Indiana; and KQTV in St. Joseph, Missouri.
The FCC’s approval coincides with the Justice Department’s signoff on the deal last year, which also came on the condition that Nexstar sell off more stations.
“The department said that without the required divestitures, the prices for broadcast television spot advertising and the fees charged to multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs)—such as cable and satellite providers—for the retransmission of broadcast television programming to MVPD subscribers would likely increase in six designated market areas (DMAs) located across the United States,” the DOJ announced in a statement.
The approval comes despite resistance from Cox Communications, Dish Network, and the CWA.