The Ax To Tax May Kill Deals

With the House Ways & Means Committee voting last week to kill the FCC’s minority tax certificate program, which allowed those who sold media properties to minorities to defer taxes, new broadcast partnerships may be in flux.

Fox had partnered with Blackstar, a minority-controlled broadcaster, to buy medium-and small-market network affils and convert them to the weblet. But the tax certificate was the impetus for sales and now deals may be much tougher for Blackstar to come by.

It is unclear whether Tribune, which has a similar venture with the Quincy Jones-led Qwest, will be affected. Last December, Qwest bought Fox-owned WATL Atlanta and Jones’ WNOL New Orleans, while the House vote is retroactive to January.

So, even if Tribune and Qwest can use the tax certificate in their first deals, future deals will be affected. Qwest is said to be looking at acquiring the Fox affiliate in Denver, which Fox is in the process of acquiring. Fox would then spin off the Denver station to Qwest and affiliate itself with the much stronger Tribune station in the market. Warner Bros.’ WB network would then switch from Tribune to Qwest in Denver.

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