×
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

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA

    TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA West President, Dies at 91

    Prolific Emmy-nominated television writer Christopher Edwin Knopf, former president of the Writers Guild of America West, died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on Feb. 13. He was 91. Knopf was born in New York and attended UCLA, leaving during his senior year to join the Air Force during World War II. He finished [...]

  • Jussie Smollett The Black AIDS Insitute

    Jussie Smollett Case: Two Suspects Released Without Charges as New Evidence Emerges

    After two days of questioning, the Chicago Police Department announced Friday evening that it has released two suspects in the Jussie Smollett case without filing charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives had developed new information in the case. Police no longer consider the men to be suspects. “Due to new evidence as a [...]

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Showtime released a new trailer and the official poster for the upcoming fourth season of “Billions,” premiering March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

  • Ken Jeong TV Take Podcast

    Listen: Ken Jeong on His Return to Stand-Up and New Netflix Special

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Ken Jeong about his Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho,” and being a judge on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.“ Jeong started working on his new standup act after ABC canceled his show “Dr. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content