MUMBAI: Tribune Co has received a waiver from America's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to transfer its broadcast licences to a new owner that will allow it to come out of a four-year old bankruptcy.
Tribune, which owns eight newspapers and 23 TV stations, has got a permanent waiver in Chicago from FCC's Media Bureau and a temporary waiver in New York,Los Angeles, South Florida and Hartford, Connecticut.
As per FCC rules, a media company is not allowed to own a newspaper and a TV station in the same market. Tribune had urged the FCC to grant a permanent waiver on the cross-media ownership that has prevented media conglomerates like News Corp to own a newspaper.
The waiver from FCC paves the way for transfer of Tribune's broadcast licenses to its new owners led by group of creditors which include Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
"The Federal Communications Commission today announced that it has approved Tribune Company’s request for the assignment of its broadcast licenses, and has granted the company a permanent waiver of the ban on cross-ownership in Chicago and temporary waivers in New York, Los Angeles, South Florida and Hartford.
Tribune owns 23 television stations and eight newspapers in markets across the country," Tribune said in a statement.
"We are extremely pleased with today’s action by the FCC," Tribune CEO Eddy Hartenstein commented. "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.”
Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai said he was pleased with the FCC order to grant waiver Tribune on the cross-media ownership rule though he would have favoured a permanent waiver.
"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," Pai said in a statement.
"It (waiver) 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."
Terming the cross-media rules as outdated, Pai was in favour of doing away with cross-media given the financial condition of newspapers.
"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," he averred.
Meanwhile, Chicago Tribune has reported that Peter Liguori, a former top TV executive at Fox and Discovery, is set to be the new CEO of Tribune.