​Nexstar-Tribune deal is expected to draw second request from DOJ

07 February 2019 12:35

Nexstar Media’s plan to buy broadcasting rival Tribune Media is expected to prompt a second request for more information from the US Department of Justice, MLex has learned.

The companies filed antitrust paperwork on their transaction Jan. 8, according to a securities filing. The paperwork kicked off an initial 30-day waiting period set to expire today. Instead of expiration, a second request extending the review is expected, it is understood.

A spokesman for the DOJ declined to comment today.

Nexstar said in early December it would acquire Tribune in a $6.4 billion transaction that would create the nation's largest local television broadcaster and local media company. Both the DOJ and US Federal Communications Commission must sign off on the merger.

The deal comes after the collapse of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s attempt to buy Tribune following unexpected opposition from the FCC.

Nexstar has signaled in this deal it has a strategy to set up a smoother regulatory process, committing from the outset to divestitures in nearly all markets where the companies compete and to delivering a compliance plan that all sides can accept.

So far, Nexstar has identified three TV stations for divestiture: WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Virginia; WGNT-TV in Portsmouth, Virginia; and WNEP-TV in Scranton-Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Other divestitures are also planned in overlap markets.

The FCC is expected to issue a notice establishing a docket on its review of the transaction, which would set deadlines for public comment, but has not done so yet.

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