The Federal Communications Commission has approved two multi-billion-dollar mergers involving the consolidation of major TV station groups.
The mergers had been opposed by many in the cable industry, who fear that ongoing consolidation will only exacerbate the problem of broadcasters building their market power in an effort to extract ever-higher retransmission consent fees.
In rulings released Friday, the FCC allowed Tribune Co. to purchase 16 stations from Local TV Holdings LLC, while allowing another three stations to go to Dreamcatcher Broadcasting LLC.
Tribune originally sought 19 stations for $2.7 billion, but Dreamcatcher will run three of the stations under an operating agreement with Tribune. The FCC denied the agreements amounted to full control.
The FCC also approved Gannett Co. Inc.'s $1.5 billion purchase of Belo Corp. and its 20 stations. Gannett on Monday agreed with the Justice Department to cut all ties with one of the stations, KMOV-TV in St. Louis. Five other stations will be operated by Sander Media LLC in a separate operating agreement.