WASHINGTON — On Monday, Texas-based Nexstar Media Group announced plans to acquire Tribune Media for $6.4 billion, including debt. If approved by regulators, the proposed merger would make Nexstar the largest local-TV station owner in the United States.
Nexstar Media Group already controls 174 stations in 100 markets. Tribune controls 42 local stations, with outlets in major markets including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. The two broadcasters have stations that overlap in 15 local markets. The merger would create an entity whose actual audience reach exceeds 72 percent, far higher than the congressional and FCC limits on national media ownership.
Nexstar’s move follows the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s failed bid to acquire Tribune, a proposal that met with widespread public resistance as well as skepticism from the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department, which vet all broadcast mergers of this scope and scale.
Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:
“Nexstar should have learned from the spectacular failure of the Sinclair-Tribune deal. The public wants more local choices, not an even bigger chain. Viewers want their local news delivered by reporters who live in their communities, produced by newsrooms located nearby — and not the cookie-cutter journalism that’s the trademark of massive media conglomerates.
“Regulators should realize that big media is bad for local news. When Nexstar executives boast of economies of scale and synergies, they’re really talking about laying off local journalists, having fewer reporters competing for scoops, and seeing the same stories and voices repeated on multiple channels.
“Hopefully the FCC’s rejection of Sinclair’s attempt to buy up these same Tribune stations shows the agency’s newfound understanding of the need for more independent voices and local choices for news — and a rejection of its earlier consolidation-at all-costs policies. The Sinclair deal’s demise should serve as a guide to rejecting the Nexstar proposal. There’s an opportunity for the FCC to embark on a new path, and not simply serve up Tribune’s local stations to another giant conglomerate.”