FCC review was the final hurdle the transaction needed to clear. The Department of Justice gave its blessing in July.
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Nexstar is paying $4.1 billion for Tribune, which runs local TV stations in markets including New York, LA and Chicago, and has other assets including cable network WGN America and a 31% stake in Discovery’s Food Network.
The deal will vault Nexstar, an Irving, TX-based company that started by owning a single radio station, into the position of the No. 1 owner of local TV stations in the U.S. Sinclair currently holds that crown. Local television has undergone dramatic consolidation over the course of this decade, with a small handful of “super-groups” controlling the majority of stations.
Along with the main transaction approval, the FCC has signed off on the plan to divest 21 stations to Tegna, E.W. Scripps and Circle City Broadcasting. Sinclair’s bid ran aground based on how it handled the divestitures needed to stay under the 39% federal ownership cap. After being rebuffed on Tribune, Sinclair regrouped and prevailed in the auction for the former Fox-owned regional sports networks sold off by Disney. Sinclair has also joined RSN partnerships with the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs.
“We’re very pleased with today’s decision by the FCC, which enables us to clear the last remaining regulatory hurdle in our path,” Tribune CEO Peter Kern said in a statement. “We look forward to closing our transaction with Nexstar very soon.”
The official announcement of the FCC approval said the deal should close “shortly.”
Investors boosted Nexstar shares 2% on the news, to $104.45.