The tribune broadcasting station sales saga appears to be finally over, with Nexstar Media Group getting the FCC go-ahead on Sept 16.
The FCC and the Justice Department both got that merger call right, which is to allow broadcasters to scale up in a crowded video marketplace, though they were a bit stingy with the individual-market combos it allowed.
What Justice definitely did not get right was to conclude — as it did in its settlement with Nexstar and Tribune, getting Justice to “yes” on the deal — that online advertising is not part of the mix when it comes to determining the relevant competitive market for broadcast mergers, and thus what other competitive pressures on price remain when broadcasters merge.
If Justice doesn’t think advertising on giant social media platforms takes business away from broadcast TV advertising, it should think again.
That is certainly news to broadcasters, who’ve been trying to make the point that the Justice Department should rethink its position.