The DOJ’s Antitrust Division said it had reached a settlement in which Gray would sell stations in the markets where they would otherwise own two or more of the top four stations.
Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general of the Antitrust Division, said without the divestitures, the merger would threaten “serious competitive harm to cable subscribers and small businesses.”
“I am pleased, however, that we have been able to reach a speedy and complete resolution of the Division’s concerns, thanks in part to the parties’ commitment to engage in good faith settlement talks from the outset of our investigation,” he said.
At the time the merger was announced in June, Gray had already identified the overlapping markets where it expected to divest stations. The markets are Knoxville, Tenn.; Toledo, Ohio; Waco, Texas; Tallahassee, Fla.; Augusta, Ga.; Odessa-Midland, Texas; Panama City, Fla.; Albany, Ga.; and Dothan, Ala.
The Antitrust Division’s concerns were that without the divestitures, the combined company would be able to charge high retransmission fees to cable and satellite companies, and demand higher prices for spot advertising in the overlapping markets.
The merger still has to be approved by the FCC.
Gray Television is based in Atlanta and owns 92 stations in 56 markets. Raycom is based in Montgomery, Ala., and owns 51 stations in 43 markets. The merger will give the combined company a substantial footprint in the Midwest and South.