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Broadcasters push FCC to approve Nexstar/Media General deal

The National Association of Broadcasters believes the FCC has had more than enough time to consider Nexstar Broadcasting Group Inc.'s pending $4.37 billion deal to acquire Media General Inc.

In a recent filing with the FCC, the association noted the commission received the necessary applications for the deal more than 230 days ago. The U.S. Department of Justice granted its conditional approval on Sept. 2.

"Given DOJ’s approval, and the fact that the Commission has well exceeded its 180-day shot clock for reviewing major transactions, the [NAB] urges the commission to fulfill its duty to process the transaction immediately," the association said.

Given that the deal has been under review for an extended period of time, NAB said if and when the commission approves the proposed transaction, Media General and Nexstar should be allowed to complete the purchase despite the ongoing broadcast incentive auction. The FCC previously said it would not approve new license transfers until after the 600 MHz spectrum auction ended.

"Refusing to permit the consummation of an approved transaction for an additional indefinite period — on top of the nearly eight months their applications have been pending — unfairly penalizes broadcasters who seek to conduct routine business during the course of the extended incentive auction process," the association said. It added that a further delay stands to harm the small broadcasters involved in related transactions for divestitures.

In approving the deal, the Justice Department said Nexstar must divest seven broadcast TV stations in six markets in order to proceed with the transaction.

DISH Network Corp. and the American Cable Association have both fought against the deal. Together, the satellite company and cable association have warned that the transaction "would create a new broadcast ownership conglomerate of unprecedented size and scope, one which will control the highest number of the Big-4 local broadcast stations in the country and have the power to threaten service blackouts to millions of consumers if any pay-TV distributor tries to hold the line on retransmission consent fees."