FCC OKs $1.255B Clear Channel TV Sale

Newport Television Gets Temporary Waivers to Comply with Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule

The Federal Communications Commission approved, subject to certain conditions, the sale of Clear Channel Communications' 35 TV stations, including associated low-powers and translators, to Newport Television for $1.255 billion. Clear Channel is selling the stations as part of a larger sale of the company to BT Triple Crown.

Newport is a group of investment funds controlled by Providence Equity Partners, which has its finger in several media pies, including a 19% interest in Univision Communications and a 16% interest in Freedom Communications.

The Clear Channel deal will put Newport in violation of FCC limits on multiple station ownership in nine markets. In addition, the Univision stake put Providence in violation of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule in five markets -- it said it would come into compliance by divesting in those markets, but has yet to do so, citing the volatile credit market.

The FCC said it would grant temporary waivers in eight of those markets -- all but Albany-Schnectady-Troy, N.Y. -- giving Newport six months after the deal closes to restructure its assets or sell stations in Bakersfield, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo, Fresno-Visalia and Monterey-Salinas, Calif.; Salt Lake City; and San Antonio.

The FCC excluded the New York market because it would leave Providence with interests in three stations there, including two ranked among the top four. The company will have to restructure its investment or divest a station there before the deal closes.