NBC continues to fight Fox’s expansion plans on the grounds that Rupert Murdoch’s company is in violation of foreign ownership rules. NBC is again asking the Federal Communications Commission to reject a Fox deal to acquire another station.
This time the deal is in Denver: Fox is trading Dallas station KDAF to Renaissance Communications for that group owner’s Denver property KDVR Under the terms of the deal, Fox is paying Renaissance $70 million for the Denver station and Renaissance is paying Fox $100 million for KDAF.
NBC has filed petitions against Fox acquisitions in Boston and Philadelphia. It will also likely fight a Fox deal in Memphis as soon as the weblet files its application to acquire that station.
The Peacock web has also filed against two deals by SF Broadcasting, the group owner backed by Savoy Pictures and Fox Broadcasting, on grounds of foreign ownership violations. SF has deals to buy stations in Green Bay, Wis., New Orleans, Honolulu and Mobile, Ala.
The FCC’s foreign ownership regulations prohibit a foreign owned company from controlling more than 25% of a TV station. NBC claims that Fox and its Australian-based parent are in violation because “Fox’s alien equity exceeds 99%.”
Ironically, Fox does not plan to hold onto the Denver property for long. Industry sources say Fox wants to sell KDVR to the Quincy Jones-backed Qwest, which would affiliate the station with Warner Bros.’ WB network. Fox would then affiliate with Tribune Broadcasting’s much stronger Denver station KWGN.
Part of the reason the deal is structured as two separate sales rather than a station swap plus cash is probably because Fox anticipated NBC filing against the deal and at least wanted to be able to sell the Dallas property to keep Renaissance backing out of the sale.
The FCC is investigating the charges by NBC and the NAACP – which first raised the issue and is involved in the commission process, in which NBC was denied participation.
Meanwhile, the Republican controlled Congress is sending strong signals that it supports Fox and wants foreign ownership regs relaxed. Fox contends the rules don’t have to be changed because they are not in violation.