The Buzz

Will the FCC let this pass?

Updated: 2013-06-14T14:39:01Z

By DAVE HELLING

The two major TV stations in St. Louis are KSDK, an NBC affiliate, and KMOV, a CBS affiliate. There’s a Fox station that is competitive and the ABC affiliate ain’t much, but the KSDK-KMOV battle is the most important face-off in the market.

Thursday, KSDK’s parent, Gannett, said it is buying the TV operations of Belo, which now owns KMOV. That means, if regulators say yes, Gannett will own the two most important stations in St. Louis.

Years ago the answer would have been no.

Federal Communications Commission rules allow the same owner for two stations in a market, but for decades two stations as significant as KSDK and KMOV were not supposed be owned by the same licensee.

Gannett says a third party will actually be owned by an independent third party.

But there is no way — no way — Gannett would have paid Belo more than $2 billion in cash and assumed debt if KMOV had been left out of the purchase. When it bought Belo, Gannett bought KMOV.

KMOV revenue will certainly fall to Gannett’s bottom line.

So the FCC (and perhaps the Justice Department) might want to take a close look at the transaction.

Unless, of course, the rules for TV station ownership are actually a joke.

Oh.

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