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Representatives Urge FCC to Act on Nexstar-Media General Deal

Three members of the Congressional Black Caucus have urged the FCC to give "strong consideration" to ruling on the Nexstar-Media General merger, saying delay could hurt diversity.

The companies did not file requests to transfer the licenses until after the deadline for doing so if the deal involved stations eligible for the incentive auction, which it did.

They have asked for a waiver, but the FCC has yet to act on that request.

In a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, Reps. Yvette Clarke, Sheila Jackson Lee and Cedric Richmond cited the fact that the deal includes spin-offs of Fox and NBC affiliates to a third broadcaster, Bayou City, which they say is the only African-American broadcaster in the country owning, operating and managing "every aspect" of its TV stations.

"We are concerned about the possible unintended impacts the moratorium could have on diversity in broadcast ownership," they said.

Given that, they told Wheeler in a letter: "We strongly urge the Commission give full consideration to the request being filed by Nexstar Broadcasting Group and Media General seeking a limited waiver of the auction rules allowing them to close the merger and related transactions," Bayou City being one of the latter.

Related: NAB Asks FCC to Act on Nexstar-Media General

The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) and the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) have also asked the FCC to grant Nexstar’s waiver request so its deal to buy Media General can close without having to wait for the broadcast incentive auction to do likewise. They argue that delaying the merger until the auction is over is having a significant adverse financial impact on Bayou.

The FCC said it would not act on license transfers sought by stations participating in the auction unless the transactions were filed by a date certain, which Nexstar and Media General missed by only a few days.

Since Media General had indicated it would be participating in the auction—it was allowed by the FCC to signal, and did signal, that it was applying to be eligible—FCC action on the transfer could provide more specific information about the auction, which is potentially in violation of the FCC’s rule against public disclosures.

Nexstar and Media General sought a waiver of that prohibited communications rule in hopes the deal approval would not have to wait until the end of the auction for a decision.