Justice OKs Jacor buy

Agreement reached on station spinoffs

WASHINGTON — The Justice Dept. Monday approved Jacor’s $620 million acquisition of Nationwide Communications, but only after an agreement was reached to spin off stations in San Diego, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

The spinoffs will bring Jacor’s share of the advertising market below 40% in all three markets. Jacor’s acquisition of Nationwide is the latest in a wave of mergers that has washed across the country since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 lifted the national ownership cap for radio stations. Jacor currently owns 197 stations in 55 markets.

Jacor didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Unlike the FCC, which only looks at overall ownership, the Justice Dept. is taking pains to ensure that no single broadcast company has a controlling share of advertising for specific demographic groups.

As part of its deal with the Justice Dept., Jacor has agreed to sell KKLQ-FM and KJQY-FM in San Diego to Heftel Broad-casting Corp. In Cleveland, it will swap WKNR-AM for Capstar’s WTAE-AM in Pittsburgh. In Columbus, Jacor is selling WZAZ-FM to Blue Chip Broadcasting. It will also sell its rights to buy WKKJ-FM in Chillicothe, Ohio, to Secret Communications.

Also, Jacor has agreed to swap three Columbus stations and two Minneapolis stations to CBS Radio Station Group and in return it will get two Baltimore stations, two St. Louis stations and two San Jose stations.

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