×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nexstar Makes Regulatory Case for Tribune Acquisition, Drawing Contrast With Sinclair

Nexstar Media Group CEO Perry Sook is taking a friendly approach to the FCC and other regulators as he begins the PR effort to secure federal approval of the Texas-based broadcaster’s $6.4 billion acquisition of Tribune Media.

The deal unveiled Monday morning will make Nexstar the nation’s largest owner of TV stations by total volume, with an estimated 216 stations in 118 markets. The size and scope of the company will surely spark opposition from media watchdog groups concerned about increasing concentration in the ownership of local TV stations. Nexstar, based in Irving, Texas, has been one of the industry’s fastest growing station groups since it was founded by Sook in 1996 with one station in Scranton, Pa.

Nexstar’s deal with Tribune comes about four months after Tribune’s planned acquisition by Sinclair Broadcast Group was torpedoed by public opposition and Sinclair’s aggressive approach to handling the divestitures necessary to comply with the FCC’s media ownership rules. Sinclair and Tribune called off the nuptials in August and have filed dueling lawsuits over the deal’s collapse.

During a conference call with Wall Street analysts, Sook pointed to Nexstar’s track record in guiding its $4.6 billion acquisition of the much larger Media General broadcast group through the regulatory maze just two years ago.

Sook told analysts that he had already spoken to FCC chairman Ajit Pai about the transaction early Monday. He promised to quickly deliver a “comprehensive plan for compliance with regulatory requirements” to the FCC. News of Nexstar’s deal with Tribune came the same day the FCC’s Inspector General ruled Pai did not act improperly regarding contact with the White House over Sinclair’s proposed merger with Tribune.

Nexstar has identified 15 markets as having overlap problems with Tribune holdings that may require divestitures, although Sook said the focus was on 13 of those markets. Sinclair’s attempted acquisition raised howls from critics of the conservative bent to the company’s news, commentary and public affairs programming.

Sook emphasized Nexstar’s track record of delivering “trustworthy local news” and investing in “local content production and opening new news bureaus” as the company’s reach has grown. Sook didn’t reference Sinclair but assured analysts he would not allow divestitures to derail the deal.

“It might be different than the approach taken by the previous acquirer but it’s not any different than the track record of success and credibility with these agencies that we’ve built over 20 years of doing business with them,” Sook said.

Nexstar had pursued nearly two years ago when the company that owns WPIX-TV New York, KTLA-TV Los Angeles and 40 other stations first went on the block. Noting the unusual opportunity for Nexstar to get a second swing at the bat, Sook joked that he couldn’t decide if the “theme song” of the deal should be drawn from “Sammy Cahn’s ‘Love is lovelier the second time around’ or the Grateful Dead’s ‘What a long strange trip it’s been.’ ”

(Pictured: Nexstar chief Perry Sook)

More TV

  • Prince Albert II of Monaco (C),

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union's 'L.A.’s Finest' Opens Monte Carlo TV Festival

    Prince Albert II of Monaco opened the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival on Friday at a glittering ceremony at the principality’s Grimaldi Forum attended by Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba. The Hollywood actresses presented the French premiere of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest,” which has just been renewed for a second season. “You typically [...]

  • Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba'L.A.'s Finest'

    Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union Speak About Horrific 'L.A.’s Finest' On-Set Accident

    Actresses Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba spoke about how the horrific accident on the set of their action cop series “L.A.’s Finest” affected them and the crew at the 59th Monte Carlo Television Festival Saturday. They also paid tribute to the main victim of the incident, executive producer/co-showrunner Brandon Sonnier, whose leg was amputated below [...]

  • Emmys: How a Social Media Campaign

    How a Social Media Campaign to Game the Emmys Led to This Week's 'Block Voting' Scandal

    The Television Academy’s “block voting” controversy has quickly become the talk of Emmy season — and that appears to have been the org’s point. According to multiple insiders, the number of people disqualified from voting in this year’s competition is believed to be small, only around three members (out of nearly 25,000 members overall). But [...]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Drops Trailer for 'Veronica Mars' Revival (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Hulu dropped the official trailer for the “Veronica Mars” revival and HBO revealed more cast members for “Lovecraft Country.” FIRST LOOKS Hulu has dropped the official trailer for its revival of “Veronica Mars,” set to premiere on July 26. The series will bring back most of the original cast, including Kristen Bell, Jason [...]

  • Dan Stevens

    'Legion' Star Dan Stevens Says His Character Would Fight Thanos, 'Wreak Havoc' in MCU

    Dan Stevens said his powerful, telepathic mutant Legion would do some serious damage if he ever crossed over from the eponymous FX series into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Legion would wreak havoc. He’d probably take on Thanos, let’s see that,” he told Variety on the red carpet at the premiere of the trippy, mind-bending superhero series [...]

  • Viacom CEO Bob Bakish

    Bob Bakish Talks Pluto TV, Netflix and CBS-Viacom Merger Rumors

    Viacom CEO Bob Bakish knows that a lot of his peers are in the original content space in streaming, but he believes the company’s ad-supported free service Pluto TV is better off relying on Viacom’s library of content. “We can debate a lot of things about the future, but in the near term, the opportunity [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content