FCC Approves Raycom Media Station Purchase

The Federal Communications Commission approved the sale of three TV stations from Lincoln Financial Group to Raycom Media, including giving the latter a six-month waiver to operator a duopoly in the Richmond-Petersburg, Va., market.

The stations involved are WWBT Richmond, Va.; WCSC Charleston, S.C.; and WBTV Charlotte, N.C.

Raycom already owns WTVR in the Richmond market, which will now only contain five separately owned TV stations. Duopolies are not allowed where there are fewer than eight independently owned stations, but Raycom promised both the FCC and the Department of Justice that it will sell WTVR within six months after the close of the deal -- Raycom entered into an agreeemt with the DOJ that gives the agency the right to file a consent decree if the station is not sold within three months of closing and to appoint a trustee to sell the station if it has not been divested within 60 days after that.

Raycom also pledged to keep the stations' management, programming and sales separate during that six months, and it will not "seek to realize any economies of scale," which frequently can include layoffs.

Raycom told the FCC it already has at least four potential buyers for the station, saying that it received at least that many "preliminary expressions of interest."

The FCC said that based on the promise to operate the stations independently and the DOJ agreement, the waiver was warranted and the deal should be approved.

The license transfer was unopposed, the commission added.

John Eggerton

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.