FCC Approves Tribune Ownership Waiver
November 16, 2012

As expected, the FCC has approved a waiver for The Tribune Co. and its cross-ownership of TV stations and newspapers. The Commission has granted a permanent waiver of the cross-ownership ban for Tribune in Chicago, as well as temporary waivers in four other markets, including New York and Los Angeles. Tribune owns 23 TV stations, eight newspapers and one radio station: News-Talk WGN-AM/Chicago.

Tribune CEO Eddy Hartenstein said in a statement, "We are extremely pleased with today's action by the FCC. This decision will enable the company to continue moving forward toward emergence from Chapter 11, a process we expect to complete over the course of the next several weeks."

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has released his own statement on the waiver issue, saying, "While my preference would have been for the Media Bureau to grant the Tribune Company permanent waivers from the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule in the New York, Los Angeles, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, and Hartford-New Haven markets, I am nonetheless pleased with today’s Order. It facilitates the company’s exit from bankruptcy, grants Tribune a permanent waiver in the Chicago market, and allows the company to maintain its newspaper-broadcast combinations in the four other markets so that they may be examined under the new rule we are likely to adopt later this year. Given the financial conditions confronting the newspaper industry, we should be applauding companies that continue to operate daily newspapers rather than saddling them with artificial and outdated regulatory burdens."

Yesterday it was reported that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski had asked for a vote this week to "streamline and modernize" the media ownership rules. The proposal reportedly includes allowing common ownership of a daily newspaper and TV station in the 20 largest U.S. markets.

In related news, once Tribune Co. has emerged from bankruptcy, it is reportedly expected to name Peter Liguori as its new CEO, replacing Hartenstein.

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Jon Zellner
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