Rejecting a pair of informal objections, the FCC has approved Gray Television's $2.8 billion-plus purchase of Meredith's TV stations.
The deal is for 16 full-power stations in 12 markets.
Also: Gray TV Buying Meredith Stations in Deal Worth $27 Billion
Gray had to divest WJRT Flint-Saginaw, Michigan, where Meredith also owned a station that would have created a duopoly that violated FCC local ownership rules.
The deal gives Gray a 25% national audience reach, well below the FCC's 39% maximum.
The FCC rejected a complaint from and individual who "express[ed] concern about “consolidation” of the news industry and a “decline in media integrity.” The FCC said that "[m]erely making anecdotal and vague observations about the media industry while rhetorically questioning whether the Transaction would favor the “self-serving interests” of an applicant is not enough to satisfy even the first step of the Commission’s two-part test under the public interest standard."
The FCC rejected the other informal complaint by over-the-air antenna seller Mr. Antenna that Meredith and refused to sell it ad time on KVVU-TV Henderson, Nevada, to advertise its over-the-air antennas, saying: "The arguments raised by Mr. Antenna rest on his allegation that Meredith has a corporate policy against advertisements that promote cord-cutting and that such a policy would continue under Gray’s ownership. Upon review of the record, we cannot conclude, as Mr. Antenna suggests, that such a policy exists, or ever existed, at Gray or Meredith."
The Meredith stations Gray is getting are WGCL and WPCH, Atlanta, Georgia; KPHO/KTVK, Phoenix, Arizona; KPTV/KPDX, Portland, Oregon; KMOV, St. Louis, Missouri; WSMV, Nashville, Tennessee; WFSB, Hartford-New Haven, Connecticut; KCTV/KSMO, Kansas City, Missouri; WHNS, Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina; KVVU, Las Vegas, Nevada; WALA, Mobile, Alabama; WNEM, Flint-Saginaw, Michigan; and WGGB/WSHM-LD, Springfield, Massachusetts.
Jon Lafayette contributed to this report.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.