The Department of Justice has given its blessing to Nexstar's $370 million purchase of Communications Corp. of America, so long as it spins off WEVV-TV, the CBS (and Fox) affiliate in Evansville, Ind., to Bayou City Broadcasting.
Nexstar had already said back in August that it was selling the station to Bayou in order to secure Justice approval.
The deal still needs sign-off from the FCC.
Justice said that Nexstar, Mission Broadcasting, CCA and Silver Point Partners must all divest their interests and that absent that, and given Nexstar's control of Mission, gaining the Fox and CBS affiliate in the market (Fox programming is on a WEVV multicast channel) would give it too much control of the Evansville spot ad market.
"Had the transaction been consummated as originally proposed, Nexstar would have owned or controlled WEHT (ABC affiliate), WEVV-TV (CBS & FOX affiliate), and WTVW (CW affiliate)," said Justice . Mission owns WTVW, but Nexstar sells the ad time in one of those JSA's the FCC is increasingly eyeing as a form of defacto control.
“This divestiture maintains the status quo in Evansville, Indiana, and avoids a loss of competition for local broadcast television spot advertising,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division, in a statement. “By ensuring that Nexstar does not come to control three of four major network affiliations, consumers will benefit as these stations continue to compete to attract viewers and advertisers.”
As is the norm, DOJ filed suit against the deal, then immediately filed a proposed settlement that would resolve its competitive concerns.