Trib closes buyout, vows to appeal FCC order

WASHINGTON — The Tribune Co. closed Tuesday on its $1.13 billion deal to acquire Renaissance Com-munications Corp., but it still intends to appeal an FCC order that it divest ownership of either a TV station or a newspaper in the Miami market.

The Federal Communications Commission rejected a request by Tribune for a permanent waiver to the newspa-per/broadcast cross-ownership rule and has demanded that the company spin off either its Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper or WDZL Miami. Tribune has vowed to challenge the FCC decision in federal appeals court, and Tribune senior counsel Chuck Sennet said Tuesday his company also will challenge the FCC rule in federal court.

Waivers rare

In its original filing with the FCC, Tribune asked for a permanent waiver to the agency’s ban on owning a newspaper and TV station in the same market. Although the FCC has granted two only such waivers in the past 20 years, Tribune argued that changes in the marketplace warrant a permanent waiver to the ban.

Tribune told the FCC there were plenty of media outlets in the Miami market and the consolidation of a newspaper and TV station under its ownership umbrella would not have an adverse effect. “In addition, through the combined resources of the Sun-Sentinel and WDZL, Tribune committed to create and make available improved news, chil-dren’s programming and public affairs programming to the South Florida market,” Tribune argued.

Overlap OK

The FCC did grant temporary waivers for Tribune to its rule that bans the ownership of more than one TV station with broadcast signals that overlap each other. The waiver was granted for WTIC Hartford, Conn., and WPIX New York. Although the stations are not in the same market, their signals overlap in some areas. A similar waiver was granted in Pennsylvania, where Tribune will own WPHL Philadelphia and WPMT York. The FCC is now revisiting its ban on ownership of stations with overlapping signals and has tentatively decided to take the rule off the books.

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