The Federal Communications Commission voted 5-0 to approve the sale of Clear Channel Communications’ remaining 1,200 or so radio stations to venture-capital consortium Thomas H. Lee Equity Fund and Bain Capital for about $20 billion, according to a source familiar with the FCC proceeding.
As expected, and as the buyer acknowledged, station clusters held under temporary waivers or grandfathered ownership rules cannot be transferred intact and will be spun off into a divestiture trust.
The commission had been looking at the deal for more than one year. It set itself a 180-day shot clock on merger reviews, but that is only a goal, not a mandate. The Clear Channel review was in its 387th day.
The deal is an all-radio transaction after the FCC Nov. 29 approved the sale of Clear Channel Television’s 35 stations to Newport Television for $1.255 billion. Clear Channel was selling the stations as part of the larger sale of the company.
The FCC is expected to announce the approval and spell out the details of the deal within the next week or so. The Justice Department has yet to sign off on the deal.