FCC approves Nexstar-Tribune merger

FCC approves Nexstar-Tribune merger
© Greg Nash

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday announced it has approved the merger of Nexstar Media Group and Tribune Media Company, green-lighting a deal that would create the largest owner of broadcast TV stations in the U.S. 

The commission voted for the merger 3-2 along party lines, with the three Republicans concluding the $6.4 billion deal will offer "several public interest benefits to viewers of current Tribune and Nexstar stations."

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) signed off on the deal over the summer after requiring the broadcasters to divest TV stations in 13 markets over antitrust concerns.

Nexstar Media is the second-largest owner of local television stations in the U.S.

Critics of the deal have argued it could harm the local news ecosystem, raising concerns that it could jeopardize "competition, diversity, and local control in local television broadcasting."

"High-quality local news is incredibly important to our society and democracy," Charlotte Slaiman, senior policy counsel at advocacy group Public Knowledge said in a statement. "The changing marketplace for news and information has made it more and more difficult for independent local news organizations to survive."

"Today, the important priority of localism in news was ignored, to the detriment of all of us, not only in our role as consumers but also as participants in our democracy," she added.

In December, Nexstar announced it would buy Tribune for $4.1 billion after Sinclair Broadcast Group failed to win approval to buy the Chicago-based conglomerate.  

Combined, Nexstar and Tribune will hold 144 station licenses in 115 markets across the country, enabling them to broadcast to over half of all U.S. household televisions.

Updated at 2:50 p.m.