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Editorial: A Little More Action

The FCC ought to grant the request by Nexstar and Media General to make a decision on their proposed merger.

The broadcasters have asked the FCC to waive its prohibition on taking action on station license transfers while the incentive auction is going on and if one of the stations involved in the transfer could also be bidding in the auction.

The auction is in its second stage of broadcast bidding, with wireless companies and others in the forward auction having failed to cover the payout for the first stage of broadcast bidding.

That reverse auction likely will extend into mid-October. Then another forward auction will have to be held, likely extending into late November. And there is no guarantee the second stage total payments to broadcasters will be covered by the second forward auction, which could extend the process into early next year.

The Justice Department has signed off on the merger, subject to some station spinoffs to other owners, saying it has no antitrust issues with the deal.

Media General and Nexstar missed filing the deal before the auction quiet period by only a few days, and each day the FCC does not act means financial strain on minority-owned Bayou City Broadcasting acquiring one of the stations being spun off. Both the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters and the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council are asking the FCC to grant the waiver.

The FCC has spoken frequently about the need for more diversity in TV station ownership. To paraphrase Elvis, it is now time for a little less talk and a little more action.