Quincy/Granite Gets Clean Bill of Antitrust Health

Neither the Justice Department nor the Federal Trade Commission have any competition issues with the Quincy Newspapers acquisition of Granite stations WBNG Binghamton, KBJR Duluth and WEEK Peoria/Bloomington, or with Quincy’s purchase of WPTA Fort Wayne from Malara Broadcasting.

The deal was on the early termination list put out by the FTC Wednesday, which means that there were no antitrust issues that required gathering further information or conditioning the deal. All deals over a certain threshold must be submitted to the Justice Department and the FTC—they divvy up the vetting—for Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust reviews.

An FCC source speaking on background said the FCC is still vetting the deal. Quincy will be operating some stations in the same markets under shared service agreements and the FCC is now looking at deals implicating those sharing agreements on a case-by-case basis.

Most likely it was the Justice Department that did the antitrust vetting, and it has signaled that sharing agreements can be problematic and that even where they are not antitrust violations per se, the FCC "should scrutinize agreements on a case-by-case basis and take action where those agreements do not serve the public interest."

Chairman Tom Wheeler has pledged to do just that.

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.